The arrival of summer means swimming, whether it’s at a beach or in a river or pool. By knowing what to do in the case of a drowning emergency, you can empower yourself.
How to know if someone is drowning:
We usually think that someone drowning would be kicking and screaming, attracting attention and crying for help. This is usually not the case, as the person might already be unconscious and not making an effort to stay afloat any longer. Here is how to spot an emergency:
- The swimmer’s head will be under the water, with the mouth close to the surface.
- The swimmer’s head will be tilting backwards, with the mouth open.
- The swimmer’s arms will be stretched to the side and the legs will be motionless.
- The swimmer will not flick any hair out of their face.
When you spot an emergency, do the following:
- If you notice one or two of the above signs in a swimmer, do not waste any time. Try to grab the swimmer’s attention. If he or she doesn’t respond, it’s time to act fast.
- Call for help if you are not strong enough to swim to the victim yourself. Only go into the water if you are perfectly capable of swimming.
- If the swimmer is now completely under the water, grab the person by the hand, armpits or hair once you are within reach. If possible, push yourself hard from the bottom of the pool or seabed to gain strength and momentum. Once you are in control and have the person in your grip, get their head above the surface of the water as soon as possible.
- Get the swimmer to the shore or out of the pool as quickly as possible. If a broken neck or spine is suspected (in the case of dangerous dives), the person should be placed on a flat board or stretcher.
- If you don’t suspect a neck or spine fracture, lay the person over your knee on their stomach so that water can be cleared out of the nose and throat. Ensure that there are no foreign objects, mucus or vomit in the mouth and call an ambulance immediately.
- In the meantime, check for a pulse, whether the pupils of the eyes react to light and whether breathing is possible. Start CPR and continue until the ambulance arrives or the person starts to breathe.
Remember that these are only the primary steps to be taken in an emergency. It is imperative to call an ambulance or paramedics.
General swimming safety tips:
- Never leave young children unattended around the pool or in the ocean.
- When at the beach, always listen to the lifeguards and take note of irregular tides.
- Keep the area around the swimming pool clear from debris and obstacles that can cause someone to slip or get injured.
- Do not push yourself to the limit, whether it’s in the ocean or the pool. Even the strongest swimmer can get into trouble.
- Never swim at remote beaches. Stick to guarded beaches and swim in the designated areas.
- Never rely on floating aids as life jackets for safety.
- Ensure the safety of your family by making your children familiar with water and swimming from a young age.