What is the Main Reason for Assuming the HELP Position When You Are Stranded in the Water? When faced with the challenging situation of being stranded in the water, assuming the help position becomes crucial for survival. The help position, also known as the Heat Escape Lessening Posture (HELP), serves to protect the body’s vital areas from heat loss and increase the chances of rescue. In this article, we will explore the main reasons why assuming the help position is essential in such circumstances and how it can significantly impact your survival in the water.

What is the Main Reason for Assuming the HELP Position When You Are Stranded in the Water?
What is the Main Reason for Assuming the HELP Position When You Are Stranded in the Water?

The Importance of the HELP Position:

Heat Preservation:

The primary objective of assuming the help position is to minimize heat loss. When immersed in cold water, the body rapidly loses heat, leading to hypothermia and a decrease in physical capabilities. The HELP position aims to reduce heat loss from critical areas of the body, including the groin, head/neck, and rib cage/armpits. By adopting this posture, you can preserve body heat, increasing your chances of survival until help arrives.

Individual Technique:

If you find yourself alone in the water, adopting the individual HELP position is crucial. Start by buttoning up your clothing to minimize exposure to cold water. Ensure that your life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) is securely fastened, allowing you to maintain buoyancy. Keep your head out of the water as much as possible, and if you are wearing a hat, pull it down tightly. It is advisable to remove any heavy shoes or boots that may hinder your movement, except for boots like waders, which can be inverted to create an air pocket for emergency flotation.

What is the Main Reason for Assuming the HELP Position When You Are Stranded in the Water?
What is the Main Reason for Assuming the HELP Position When You Are Stranded in the Water?

Group Technique:

When stranded with other individuals in the water, huddling together in a group becomes beneficial. Group huddling lessens the loss of body heat and boosts morale among the stranded individuals. It also makes it easier for rescuers to locate a group rather than individuals scattered across the water. To huddle effectively, face inward and link arms over each other’s shoulders or under each other’s arms. Draw close and tight to maximize heat sharing. If there are children or seniors in the group, ensure they are positioned in the middle of the huddle for added warmth and protection.

What is the Main Reason for Assuming the HELP Position When You Are Stranded in the Water?
What is the Main Reason for Assuming the HELP Position When You Are Stranded in the Water?

Enhanced Visibility:

Assuming the help position not only aids in heat preservation but also improves visibility for potential rescuers. When individuals are huddled together or adopting the individual HELP position, they become more visible in the vast expanse of water. Rescuers scanning the area are more likely to spot a group or individuals in the help position, increasing the chances of a timely rescue.

Psychological Support:

Stranded in the water, one can quickly feel isolated and vulnerable. However, assuming the help position and huddling with others provides psychological support and a sense of unity. Sharing warmth, physical contact, and emotional reassurance within a group can boost morale, alleviate fear, and enhance the will to survive. Knowing that you are not alone in the ordeal can provide a much-needed sense of comfort and hope.

Additional Techniques for Stranded Individuals in the Water:

Controlled Breathing:

Controlling your breathing can help conserve energy and reduce heat loss. By taking slow, deep breaths, you can prevent rapid heat dissipation through exhaled air. Focus on maintaining a calm and steady breathing rhythm while in the water, as excessive breathing can accelerate heat loss and lead to hyperventilation.

Limb Movement:

While in the water, it is important to keep your limbs moving gently to promote blood circulation and generate some heat. Slowly move your arms and legs in a relaxed manner without exerting excessive force. This continuous movement helps distribute warmth throughout your body and may delay the onset of hypothermia.

Use of Flotation Devices:

If you have access to additional flotation devices, such as buoyant objects or spare life jackets, utilize them to improve buoyancy and insulation. Secure the flotation devices around you or share them with others in the group to enhance stability and reduce the strain on your muscles.

Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude:

Surviving in the water requires a resilient mindset. It is crucial to maintain a positive mental attitude and focus on the goal of staying afloat and awaiting rescue. Keeping a calm and optimistic outlook can help you make rational decisions, conserve energy, and endure challenging circumstances.

Vocalize and Signal for Help:

If you are in the proximity of potential rescuers or passing boats, use your voice to call for help. Shout loudly and repeatedly, ensuring your cries for assistance are heard. Additionally, utilize any signaling devices available, such as whistles, flares, or reflective materials, to attract attention and increase your visibility.

Minimize Body Movement:

While gentle limb movement is beneficial, excessive thrashing or swimming can accelerate heat loss and increase fatigue. It is important to conserve energy by minimizing unnecessary body movements. Instead, focus on maintaining a steady position and conserving body heat through the adoption of the help position or group huddling.

Stay Hydrated:

Although surrounded by water, it is essential to resist the temptation to drink seawater or any other non-potable water. Consuming seawater can exacerbate dehydration and impair judgment. Instead, focus on preserving body fluids by limiting physical exertion and minimizing heat loss through the help position.

Remember, these additional techniques should be used in conjunction with the primary help position or group huddling to maximize your chances of survival in the water. Every decision and action should be directed towards preserving body heat, staying visible to rescuers, and maintaining a positive mindset until help arrives.


In conclusion, assuming the help position, or the Heat Escape Lessening Posture (HELP), is paramount when stranded in the water. By adopting this posture, individuals can minimize heat loss, preserve body heat, increase visibility for rescuers, and find psychological support through huddling. Whether alone or in a group, understanding and implementing the HELP position can significantly improve your chances of survival until help arrives. Remember, in dire circumstances, assuming the help position is a crucial step toward ensuring your safety and well-being in the water.

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