Being near water is perceived as a low risk activity and water related activities as high risk. Statistics demonstrate this is not the case and nearly 50% of people who drown had no intention of entering the water. Don't assume you're not at risk of drowning because you don't intend to go in the water.
What to do if someone falls into deep water
- The first thing to do is call for help - straightaway. Call 999, if you are near the coast ask for the coastguard, if you are inland ask for fire service and ambulance. The emergency services will need to know where you are.
- Accurate information can save precious minutes. If you have a smart phone and have location services or map tool enabled, this can help. If not look around for any landmarks or signs - for example bridges will often have numbers on them which can identify their location.
- Don’t hang up - stay on the line but try and continue to help the person if appropriate. When you have made this call shout for help from anyone who might be close by.
- Human nature says you are likely to want to attempt to help while rescue services are on their way.
- Never ever enter the water to try and save someone. This usually ends up adding to the problem. If you go into the water you are likely to suffer from cold water shock which will leave you unable to help even if you are a strong swimmer.
- Can the person help themselves? Shout to them ‘Swim to me’. The water can be disorientating. This can give them a focus. Keep any instructions short clear and loud. Don’t shout instructions using different words each time.
- Look around for any lifesaving equipment. Depending on where you are there might be lifebelts or throw bags - use them. If they are attached to a rope make sure you have secured or are holding the end of the rope so you can pull them in.
- If there is no lifesaving equipment look at what else you can use. There may be something that can help them stay afloat - even an item such as a ball can help. You could attempt to reach out to them. Clothes such as scarves can be used to try and reach or a long stick. If you do this lie on the ground so your entire body is safely on the edge and reach out with your arm. Don’t stand up or lean over the water - you may get pulled in.
If you manage to get the person out of the water they will always need medical attention.
- Even if they seem fine drowning can occur at a later stage if water has already entered the lungs. It can cause death up to 48 hours after the near drowning incident.
- If the person is unconscious you will need to check they are breathing. If they are not breathing they need 5 rescue breathes and then CPR (30 Chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breathes). Continue until help arrives.
- If the person is unconscious but breathing put them in the recovery position with their head lower than their body.
Water Safety Posters
To request free Home Safety advice call free on: 0800 05 02 999. For any other fire safety advice, contact the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue helpline on: 01392 872288.
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