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What do I do with a drowning person?

by Burrell Jull 17 Aug 2023
What do I do with a drowning person?
Title: What to Do with a Drowning Person: A Comprehensive Guide


Finding yourself in a situation where you witness someone drowning can be both frightening and overwhelming. In such critical moments, knowing the right actions to take can help save someone's life. This blog post aims to equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to handle such emergencies. Remember, your quick response can be the difference between life and death.

1. Stay Calm and Assess the Situation:

The first step when encountering a drowning person is to remain calm. Panicking will only heighten the tension and may hinder your ability to help effectively. Quickly assess the surroundings, noting any potential dangers that may affect your own safety.

2. Call for Help:

Immediately call out for assistance, as it is crucial to inform others about the emergency. Dial emergency services (911 or local emergency number) to ensure professional help is on the way. If possible, delegate others around you to make the call while you focus on the victim.

3. Reach or Throw, Don't Go:

In instances where the drowning person is within arm's reach, use an object such as a pole, branch, or towel to extend towards them. If they are farther away, avoid jumping into the water to reach them, as it puts you at risk too. Instead, find a long object, such as a rope or a flotation device, to throw to the person, allowing them to grab hold.

4. Provide Verbal Reassurance:

Even during a crisis, comforting words can have a positive impact on the drowning person. Calmly and firmly instruct them to remain afloat and avoid struggling. Assure them that help is on its way and that you are there with them.

5. Execute a Rescue Plan:

To safely bring the drowning person out of the water, use the following guidelines depending on the circumstances:

- In-Water Rescue (Swimmer): If you possess the skills to swim proficiently and there are no other options available, approach the victim from behind and make sure they cling to a stable flotation device such as a lifebuoy. Proceed to a safe area, supporting their weight and avoiding any sudden movements.

- On-Water Rescue (Non-Swimmer): If you're unable to swim or the situation does not allow you to enter the water, look for boats, boards, or any floating objects that can be used to reach the person. With assistance from others, appropriately navigate the object towards the victim while maintaining your own safety.

6. Perform CPR and First Aid:

Once the drowning person is out of the water, it is vital to assess their condition and immediately initiate CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) if necessary. If you are trained in CPR, begin compressions and rescue breathing as per your certification. If you lack CPR knowledge, follow the instructions given by the emergency services operator until professional help arrives.

7. Provide Post-Rescue Support:

After the physical rescue, emotional support is equally crucial. Reassure the person and keep them as comfortable as possible until the arrival of medical professionals. Offer warm clothing and blankets to prevent hypothermia, keeping them calm and stable until further assistance is provided.


Encountering a drowning person demands rapid and smart actions. By staying calm, calling for help, and employing the appropriate rescue techniques, you significantly increase the chances of saving a life. Remember, it is essential to prioritize your own personal safety throughout the process. Familiarize yourself with basic first aid, CPR, and water-safety training to be better prepared for unexpected water emergencies. With the knowledge gained from this guide, you have the power to make a difference in someone's life during an emergency.
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