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What if you accidentally fell into a lake or pool in rollerskates or inline skates? (I've seen some videos of people skating next to a lake and it makes me nervous as heck) I'm wondering if you'll immediately be weighed down and sink... or will you be able to float?

What are the safety measures to take in such a situation? I assume it's to get the skates of your feet as fast as possible?

(I Initially posted this in sports... it was closed and I was told to post it in Physical Fitness)

EDIT: I can swim.

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    Unless it's a specific situation, the most likely scenario is that you'll get wet, because the water will be shallow enough to stand up in, for any place that has a multiuse path or similar next to the water.
    – JohnP
    Sep 2 at 14:22
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    This answer on sports.se says they weigh about 1kg each. They have some bulk but will be denser than water, at least once wet through. Still, they won't pull you under
    – Chris H
    Sep 2 at 16:38
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    @ChrisH For reference, a common weight to practice fetching objects from the bottom of a pool is 5kg.
    – Nobody
    Sep 3 at 10:55
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    @Nobody I'm more familiar with the lighter ones used by kids, but 5kg doesn't surprise me. I recall swimming up with rocks just because I could, but that was a long time ago and I wouldn't like to guess the weights.
    – Chris H
    Sep 3 at 11:06
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    You don't say whether you can swim. If you can't, and are not learning, there are still some tips to stay afloat. Sep 5 at 13:27
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No, the skates won't be a problem, if you can swim.

The most important thing in such a situation is not to panic. Remember that you can swim, and swim well.

If you can't swim well, then stay away from deep water no matter whether wearing skates or not. Even with a certified inflatable personal flotation device PFD I would not recommend going near deep open water if you can't swim well. If you have an expensive automatic inflatable PFD, the automatic trigger could fail and if you have the normal manual version then in every case you need to stay calm enough to pull the trigger and not swallow too much water in the time it takes for the PFD to activate. It takes several seconds until an inflatable PFD is inflated and takes you up to the surface. Plus the fanny-pack like inflatable PFDs, which is probably what you are going to end up with if you want it for roller blading, they still need to be put on over your head after they inflate. At first they are only attached to your hips and you can perfectly well panic and drown with your head 30cm beneath the surface.

And just to be very clear: Swimming well means you can do at least 300m in open water and you can do this at least in the breast stroke style and the front crawl style (head above water if need be) and you actually practiced this within the last year.

If you want to swim fast, of course the skates would be a problem. But you just want to get to land and no one is timing whether it takes you 30s or 2 minutes.

Your hands alone are completely sufficient to keep you afloat and slowly propel you forward. Crawl leg stroke probably works ok with skates, I imagine breast leg strokes would not work well, but still work better than not moving the legs, or butterfly kicks should work pretty much normally (but you wouldn't be asking this question if this swimming style was in your repertoire, I suspect).

Don't try to take off the skates, especially if you aren't very comfortable diving and swimming (this means you can do 300m as described above, but could not do several km). Trying to reach down might make your head go below water, which might then cause some breathing problem which in turns causes panic and then later drowning.

(certified professional lifeguard here, not much work experience, but I passed the tests just fine)

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  • do you disagree with this? --> Unless it's a specific situation, the most likely scenario is that you'll get wet, because the water will be shallow enough to stand up in, for any place that has a multiuse path or similar next to the water. – JohnP♦
    – BCLC
    Sep 4 at 3:31
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    @BCLC I know places where people skate and where there is just a knee-high wall between the path and water that is too deep to stand. So I think it makes sense to consider the worst case. I wouldn't claim to know any statistics about what share of multi use paths that are next to water are next to deep water.
    – Nobody
    Sep 4 at 6:30
  • "Even with a certified personal flotation device PFD I would not recommend going near deep open water if you can't swim well. If you have an expensive automatic PFD, the automatic trigger could fail and if you have the normal manual version then in every case you need to stay calm enough to pull the trigger and not swallow too much water in the time it takes for the PFD to activate." Lifejackets are a thing that exist, and they don't need to be activated.
    – nick012000
    Sep 4 at 11:46
  • @nick012000 I edited the answer to make clear I'm talking about inflatable PFDs. Of course life-jacket like PFD exist, but you aren't going to wear one to go skating (or in other situations where water-contact is a rather remote possibility), are you? If you have a full rigid life jacket including a long neck part, then you are pretty safe in water even unconscious.
    – Nobody
    Sep 4 at 14:17
  • @nick012000 And maybe even more accurately, inflatable PFDs with 50N of buoyancy, which is the kind most common for sports. If you get a fully automatic 300N inflatable PFD for off-shore use and maintain it properly and now and again do a training drill, then sure, you don't need any swimming skills.
    – Nobody
    Sep 4 at 14:25
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As others have pointed out, accidentally skating into shallow water is not likely to result in drowning, but if you skate near deep water or if your fear of skating into water and drowning will interfere with your enjoyment of life, you can wear an automatic inflatable PFD (personal flotation device).

This is a device that looks like a harness that does not interfere with movement. (There are also versions that look like a fanny pack). It contains a CO2 cartridge and a water-sensitive trigger. If a person wearing the device falls into water, it instantly inflates and becomes a life jacket that will support you in deep water for as long as it takes to reach safety, even with heavy skates on your feet. These are often worn by people who work near deep water but who can not wear traditional life jackets due to the nature of their work.

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  • Less expensive than the automatic version is one where you pull a trigger to inflate it. This would surely work, but I think learning to swim properly would be a better solution.
    – Nobody
    Sep 2 at 21:03
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This question made me curious, so I looked it up. Turns out someone (not me) tried this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy7RqW6TR3k

My first guess was that the weight would not really be a factor, I was just wondering if the skates would limit you in your movement to stay afloat. From this footage I would say it looks possible. I can imagine the extra surface area of the wheels and its framework would act as if they are diving fins, but vertically. You could use that in a sideways movement to propel yourself

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  • a video is sometimes worth 100,000 words.
    – D Duck
    Sep 4 at 9:28
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I'm wondering if you'll immediately be weighed down and sink... or will you be able to float?

Based on this statement I am going to assume you don't know how to swim.

Sink or float is completely dependent on your body's buoyancy and skates don't weigh enough to make a critical difference.

You should learn how to swim before finding yourself in this situation or any situation where you unexpectedly find yourself in a body of water.

Once you learn how to swim then you will realize it's mostly a non-issue. You will feel peril but it's easily survivable as long as you didn't hurt yourself or hit your head on something when falling into the water.

Last but not least, falling into a turbulent ocean is much different than falling into a lake. It would be much more dire falling into an ocean.

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    Density of the human body is really close to that of water. If I try to do a starfish float in a swimming pool, I drown, feet and legs falling first, so I need to move and swim back. If I try it in the ocean, I can almost float. Skates would definitely make a critical difference in buoyancy. Sep 3 at 3:46
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    Don't forget that the material of the skates is somewhat buoyant also. Most skates are mostly made of plastic which (if you use figures for polyurethane) has density ~1.25 so effective added weight relevant for sinking/floating is only 0.25x the actual weight of the skates. If an average pair of skates weighs 6lbs then you're really only adding an extra 1.5lbs of total weight. I'd wager there's more variance than that in terms of buoyancy for levels of fat/muscle between two fairly average people.
    – WhatEvil
    Sep 3 at 4:02
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    The assertion in your last paragraph seems completely wrong. I suspect you had a good reason to write it, but I can't think what. You're more buoyant in salt water, so it's not that. The steepness of the shore/bank could make a difference, but both lakes and seas have beaches and docks, the two extreme situations. The temperatures are similar. You're not going to be in long enough for tides to be relevant, so what's the worry with the sea?
    – Chris H
    Sep 3 at 11:09
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    @ChrisH It might be the "tidal" part. Particularly, if the tide is receding, there can be strong currents even in shallow places. But that depends a lot on local geography.
    – jpa
    Sep 3 at 11:30
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    @ChrisH My apologies, "tidal" was the wrong word, I meant "turbulent/wavy".
    – MonkeyZeus
    Sep 3 at 12:51

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