What Kind Of First Aid Is Given To Someone Drowning

Princess A.
12 Min Read

Cases of people drowning these days are increasing and it is essential to know the kind of first aid you give to someone drowning. Reviving someone who has drowned or swallowed water is not an easy task so it is important to learn how to properly revive a drowning victim.

Here, we give you tips on how to revive a drowning victim, first aid for drowning victims, how to use CPR on drowning victims, and also how to stay safe during such a situation.

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Here is an overview of what you should expect in this post:

What Is Drowning?

Drowning is defined as a process of experiencing respiratory impairment as a result of being in or under a liquid medium.

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Drowning can happen to anyone, whether a good swimmer or a non-swimmer, that’s why it is recommended that anyone who would go near water should wear a life jacket. Although wearing a life jacket is not a fail-proof way to prevent drowning, it can minimize the risk of accidental drowning or extend the person’s ability to stay afloat and breathe in the water.

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How Do I Know If Someone Is Drowning?

When someone is drowning, they might not show evidence of distress. Drowning is most often quick and unspectacular. Here are some following signs associated with drowning:

  • The victim is likely silent. A drowning person is almost always unable to call for help. However, there are some cases in which a drowning individual can shout.
  • The victim may hold their mouth below the surface of the water or alternate between the surface and under the water. This makes it difficult for them to inhale or exhale.
  • The victim is also unable to control arm movements, which makes it difficult for them to swim to a rescuer or grab onto a lifeline.
  • The victim cannot wave or signal because the natural instinct is to press down on the water’s surface to lift them up for a breath.
  • The victim will be vertical in the water and not show any signs of kicking.
  • A victim exhibiting these signs only has about 20-60 seconds before being submerged underwater.
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A person drowning is generally unable to call for help, or seek attention, as they cannot obtain enough air. Lifeguards and other persons trained in rescue learn to recognize drowning people by watching for these movements.

How To Identify Someone In Aquatic Distress

Someone who is experiencing aquatic distress shows symptoms generally related to drowning. Aquatic distress is no less serious than drowning, but it doesn’t last long and the person can assist in his rescue by grabbing lifelines or throwing rings. Signs of aquatic distress include:

Whether or not a person is in aquatic distress or drowning or even if you suspect either of these contingencies, it’s important to take action to help the person as soon as possible. This can help minimize the risk of accidental drowning or brain damage from being underwater for too long.

How Do I Rescue A Drowning Person?

What do you do when you are alone, with no lifeguards and someone is drowning? Most people won’t just stand by and do nothing while someone is drowning. Here is the first aid for drowning victims, the steps you need to take first when you see someone drowning.

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First Aid for Untrained Persons In Rescue Procedures

Step 1: Call for help

Step 2: Do not attempt to rescue the drowning victim by entering the water. It is best that one does not get into the water unless he\she is trained in water rescue procedures.

Step 3: If you are untrained, there is an important mantra you need to remember. It is called reach, throw and row:

Reach: Try to extend something to the victim, maybe your hand or a long pole. Make sure you have a firm grip on something so that you do not get dragged into the water by the struggling victim.

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Throw: In this step, try to throw a floatation device like a buoy or a rope to the victim and drag the victim back to safety.

Row: This step is mainly for people who are in a boat. If the person falls off the boat, the first thing to do is to turn off the engine because a running rotor blade could injure the victim in the water. Then row towards the victim and attempt rescue.

First Aid for Trained Persons In Rescue Procedure

Step 1: Call for help. You can use short phrases like “help” repeatedly.

Step 2: Point in the direction of the victim so others can also see where the victim is in case you need assistance.

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Step 3: In serious situations where no one is around, enter the water with a floatation device or something to extend to them like a stick. Never use a rope while you are in the water with the victim because it can get entangled around you or the victim.

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Step 4: Approach the victim carefully and extend the floatation device to them without actually coming into physical proximity to the victim. This is to avoid the victim clinging to you and possibly pulling you down as well. The victim’s head should be above the water at all times.

Step 5: Once the victim stops struggling, hold him\her across the shoulders and swim to the shore. Once you reach dry land, you can initiate CPR on drowning victims

Lifeguard CPR Steps

CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a very important technique when it comes to saving someone’s life.CPR is one of the first aid for drowning victims. Here are the steps to initiate CPR on a drowning victim:

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How Do I Perform CPR On A Drowning Victim?

Step 1: Assess the victim well. You could try tapping them or calling their name in a loud clear voice. If the victim responds, it means they are aware of their surroundings. In this case, you do not need to initiate CPR for the drowning victim.

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Step 2: If the victim doesn’t respond, check for the victim’s breathing and pulse.

Step 3: In order to check for breath sounds, either look for rising and falling of the chest, or put your ear close to the victim’s nose. If the victim is breathing, do not perform CPR. Performing CPR on a live person can be fatal.

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Step 4: If the person has no pulse and is not breathing, tilt the person’s head backward, and open his/her mouth by pulling the jaw forward. This is meant to clear up the person’s airway and help him/her breathe normally.

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Step 5: Take the hand from the forehead and pinch the soft part of the nose closed. Allow the mouth to fall open. With the head still tilted, take a breath in and place your mouth over the casualty’s forming a seal. Blow into their mouth for one second, until the chest rises. Take your mouth away and watch the chest fall. Do this five times.

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Step 6: Give 30 chest compressions. Kneel by the casualty and put the heel of your hand in the middle of their chest. Put your other hand on top of the first. Interlock your fingers making sure they don’t touch the ribs. Keep your arms straight and lean over the casualty. Press down hard, to a depth of about 5-6cm before releasing the pressure, allowing the chest to come back up. 

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Do this 30 times at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.

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Step 7: After 30 compressions, you need to give two rescue breaths. Continue to perform CPR, alternating 30 chest compressions with two rescue breaths, (30:2) until:

  • Emergency help arrives and takes over.  
  • You are too tired to continue (if there is a helper, you can change over every one to two minutes, with minimal interruptions to chest compressions).
  • The person starts showing signs of life and starts to breathe normally.
  • Be careful, many victims that drown may bring up stomach contents, so be prepared to roll them onto their side to clear their airways.
  • If the victim shows signs of becoming responsive such as coughing, opening eyes, speaking, and starting to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position.
  • Monitor the victim’s; level of response and prepare to give CPR again if necessary.
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