If you spend any time around water, there are two big questions you should be able to answer. If you’re like most people, you may think you know the answers to those questions, but there’s a good possibility that you may not have the complete picture.
Would You Be Able To Tell if Someone Was Drowning?
Most people wouldn’t because drowning doesn’t always look like we think it will. Drowning can look like nothing you’d notice, hear, or even expect. In most cases, it’s silent. Drowning isn’t just limited to children or inexperienced swimmers either. Be on the lookout for subtle signs:
● A person motionless or face down in the water
● A person swimming upright but not making any forward progress
● A lowered head or a head tilted way back or with hair covering their eyes or face
● A look of fear or doom in a person’s eyes
● A person who jumps or dives into the water but doesn’t come up quickly
Would You Know What To Do If Someone Was Drowning?
If you’re like most people, your first instinct might be to jump in to try to save the person in distress. Although your heart would be in the right place, jumping in after someone isn’t recommended. It’s the least effective way to save a person and can quickly put you in danger.
5 Ways You Can Help in a Drowning Situation
- Throw, Don’t Go
The safest way to help someone drowning is to throw a lifesaving device, towel, rope, or a pool noodle at the person in the water, wait until they grab hold and then tow the person to safety. Panic can cause a person to obstruct someone from being able to swim or stay above the water. The panicked drowning victim can grab hold of anything they can grab hold of, including the person trying to save them (and pull them down).
- Call for Help
Alert people around you that someone is drowning before taking action to try to save the victim. If something goes wrong, it is vitally important that other people know you may need assistance with the rescue.
- Approach the Drowning Person from Behind
If you need to enter the water to save someone from drowning, it is best to approach them from behind to lessen the likelihood that they’ll grab on to you and pull you under the water.
- Wear a Life Jacket
If you are attempting to rescue a drowning victim in an open body of water like a river or lake, put on a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket before you enter the water. It may seem like an extra step when all you want is to help the drowning person, but it could save your and the victim’s lives. In addition, it’s the best way to deal with unknown water conditions, such as currents or an underwater log. If possible, also try to secure yourself to your boat or the shore with a rope.
- Learn CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
Learn first aid and CPR. CPR saves millions of lives; if you do not know CPR techniques, you can inquire at the Red Cross, hospitals, and local fire departments that offer CPR training.
It’s also a great idea to look for life-ring stations installed near bodies of open water. Each station contains a plastic life-preserver attached to a rope. A bystander can open the life ring station, break the glass protecting the ring, and throw it to the victim to keep them afloat or pull them to shore. As soon as the glass breaks, an alarm goes off to alert anyone in the area to the emergency. Check with your town or fire department to see if life ring stations are installed near your favorite spot.
People always think a drowning accident couldn’t happen to them, yet it can. So don’t be haunted by “If only I’d known what to look for” or “If only I’d known what to do.” Instead, follow the guidelines to know the best way to react in a drowning situation.
Together, we can end drowning and save lives and heartache! Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep kids safe.