Cold Water Impact

Learn what happens to your body in cold water.

RNLI Cold Water Impact activity slides
  • 30 minutes
  • Required: buckets, cold water, paper towels and stop watches
  • Optional: display equipment
  • Stay together
  • Float

A practical experiment designed to measure the body’s responses to cold water immersion. Children learn about the automatic responses that can’t be controlled; the activity reinforces what to do if they find themselves unexpectedly in cold water.

Tell me more

A question and answer session about what happens to different parts of your body in cold water is followed by a chilly experiment using a bowl of ice-cold water.

There’s also a video included to show the effects of cold water shock.

Please ensure any appropriate permission is given and risk assessment complete ahead of undertaking any optional practical activity.

Curriculum links: 

  • England KS2 PSHE Health & Wellbeing
  • Northern Ireland KS1&2, PD&MU, Personal Understanding and Health
  • Republic of Ireland SPHE, Myself
  • Scotland First & Second Level, PSE / HWB
  • Wales KS2, PSE, Health and emotional well-being 
Play this video to help share our key water safety messages and bring the work of the RNLI to life for your young people.

What to do next