Drowning can happen in a matter of minutes. That’s why it’s very important to act quickly in water-related emergencies. Knowing how to act can make a huge difference in your ability to save someone’s life!
Assess the Situation
Know what to do before you act. Rescue situations can be very stressful, however if you are panicking, you yourself are more likely to make a mistake. So do your best to stay calm and collected. First of all, determine if the victim is indeed drowning. Remember that some victims may be struggling so hard that it is difficult for them to cry out. You will also want to identify exactly where the victim is in order to best respond to his/her needs.
If there is a lifeguard or other trained professional in the vicinity, get their help, as they will be better prepared to handle an emergency situation. Even if you determine that you must act yourself, it is still always smarter to alert everyone else to what is going on so that they can assist you in the rescue. This also decreases your chances of becoming a victim yourself. Last but not least, be certain that somebody contacts emergency services.
Get the Drowning Person Out of the Water
In some situations, it is possible to perform a rescue by merely casting a floatation device on a line. If the victim appears able to respond to such help, and if you are close enough in proximity for this to be an effective option, it is preferable. Going in after a drowning victim can be dangerous, so other options should be exhausted first. Only go in if your swimming skills are strong enough to actually help in the situation–not if you will only need rescuing yourself, which will further complicate efforts! In the event that you do need to go in after the victim, bring a floatation device with you! The victim’s first response may very well be to attempt to climb on top of you, without realizing that this could sink you both!
Access the Victim’s ABC’s
Check the victim’s airway, breathing, and circulation to ensure that their vital signs are functioning. If necessary, you may need to perform CPR and/or contact emergency services. Even if the victim appears to be okay, it is important to stay alert in order to guard against risks such as hypothermia.