One of the most common causes of accidental death in the United States is drowning. Drowning doesn’t just happen in oceans, lakes, or half-frozen ponds. You can drown in a bathtub or even in a wading pool.
Sometimes drowning occurs as a result of another injury a heart attack or stroke that causes unconsciousness. Sometimes people drown by diving into water that’s too shallow and suffering a head injury. And sometimes muscle cramps cause panic, which in turn leads to drowning.
The signs for help are easy to identify. A cry, splashing, and a period of immersion when the person disappears from sight these are all signs that someone in the water may be a drowning victim.
The larger the body of water, the more difficult the rescue. Still, when the rescuer knows what he or she is doing, a rescue is possible.
- If a lifeguard is nearby, let him or her do the rescuing. Otherwise, shout for help as loud as you can.
- Try to reach the injured person without leaving the shore. Use your arm, your leg, a sweatshirt, a life preserver, a rope, a rescue pole, or anything that floats.
- Hold onto something on solid ground (such as another person) so you aren’t swept away by strong currents.
- If you can’t reach the victim from the shore, locate a boat and find someone to assist you. Be sure that you, or someone with you, can operate the craft.
- When a boat is not available, swim out to the spot where the victim was last seen but only if you’re a good swimmer. Currents, undertow, and cold water can hinder average swimmers. Even if you’re a good swimmer, always have a flotation device with you something that the drowning victim can hold onto as you swim back to shore. If the drowning person is unconscious, hold him or her on the flotation device and use a sidestroke and strong kicks to return to shore.
When we talk about personal flotation devices, we’re not spewing out some kind of euphemistic, politically correct jargon. Personal flotation devices are life preservers, life jackets, thick floating dinghies, or rafts that can save a life. All of these lightweight devices can keep a person afloat and prevent him or her from drowning. Like car safety belts, personal flotation devices are meant to be preventative. You should use one any time you’re out fishing, boating, or swimming (especially for children and weak swimmers).