Disclaimer: An ice bath is plain and simple but there are a few things you should worry about before you jump in a bathtub full of water and ice.
SAFETY TIP: Have someone around for supervision.
The first thing you'll experience when you are submerging yourself in cold water is the drop in skin temperature which will trigger a symptom called cold shock response.
A Cold shock response is when you have uncontrollable breaths of air that’s then followed by lengthy quick breathing. This continues for approximately a minute after entering the cold water. The initial shock causes a natural gasp reflex. More importantly, if your head goes underwater during this rapid breathing, you can accidentally take a lungful of water. The result of breathing in water is simple, drowning.
Chart provided by Biosynchronistics
Afterward, once your body temperature drops, the symptoms of hypothermia begin. Being aware of the symptoms is the first step in diagnosing and detecting hypothermia. Signs and symptoms include: (symptoms from The Mayo Clinic Staff)
Signs and symptoms of mild hypothermia include:
As your body temperature drops, signs and symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia include:
Someone with hypothermia usually isn't aware of his/her condition because the symptoms often begin gradually. Also, the confused thinking associated with hypothermia prevents self-awareness. The confused thinking can also lead to risk-taking behavior.
One way to not get the initial cold shock is by slowly getting used to the cold temperature. You can do this by gradually immersing your lower body into the water and then work your way up towards your torso.
Once you are ready to come out, give yourself some time to regain sensation in your body before instantly going into a hot environment or hot shower.