As the summer heats up, people head to the beach, swimming pools, and water theme parks in droves to enjoy the summer sun. And quite expectedly, the number of drowning and near-drowning incidents also increases. Providing immediate first aid for drowning can do so much in improving the outcome of the victim.
There are different water-related injuries that can occur on, in, or near the water. Fractured bones, cuts and wounds, bleeding, medical emergencies, and airway obstruction are just some of the accidents that can occur while enjoying the beach or swimming pool. However, the main concern is the risk of drowning. Even if the initial problem is a medical emergency or an injury, drowning can be result unless the victim is salvaged.
First aid for drowning involves water rescue. But unless you are trained in water rescue or an experienced swimmer, DO NOT attempt to go into the water and save someone from drowning. Water rescue and safety courses can be taken from accredited training providers such as the Red Cross.
In water rescue, the basic order of procedures is as follows:
- REACH AND PULL
If the victim is responsive and is near the shore or poolside, start the rescue by REACHing out or holding out an object towards the victim. Once the victim grabs the object, PULL him out of the water. But before attempting to do this, make sure that you are in a safe and secured position to avoid being dragged into the water. You can use any item in the surrounding for rescue (such as a fishing rod, a tree branch, stick, oar, or other similar objects). A rope is considered the best option. If there are no items available, you can use your clothing, a blanket or a towel to reach the victim. You may also grab the victim by hand but only in cases where there is no object at hand. Again, make sure to have a stable footing.
If the victim is too far, THROW any object that will float. In the absence of personal flotation devices (such as lifejackets, life preserver, or ring buoy), you can use any buoyant object around you such as plastic jugs, cushions, large beach balls, flat balls, plastic toys, and any empty container. Do this as soon as possible.
The victim will instinctively cling onto any buoyant object around
them. Once the victim is on floatation device, find a way to TOW him to shore. If you know how to swim, you may attempt to wade into the water but no deeper than the waist. Also, you should be wearing a flotation device or have access to a safety line towards the shore.
If the victim is very far from the shore, GO to the victim by boat. However, do not attempt this if you do not know how to swim. As much as possible, ask the help of people around.