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Show full transcript for Pool Safety video

Every year numerous lives are needlessly lost to drowning incidents, and many of those lost are young children. In this lesson, you'll learn how to recognize a drowning victim and how to help them to safety.

Many times, a person who is a true drowning victim behaves differently than we might expect. They're likely not yelling for help, as they could be taking in water and unable to speak.

It's important to understand what a drowning victim looks like. Signs of a potential drowning victim include:

  • Exaggerated movements
  • Head bobbing up and down at water line
  • Arms flailing
  • Making little noise beyond sounds of splashing

How to Safely Rescue a Potentially Drowning Victim

Once you've identified a potential drowning victim, use the following methods to rescue them and help them safely out of the pool.

Pro Tip #1: The protocol for rescuing a drowning victim can be summed as such: Reach. Throw. Don't go. DO NOT swim out to get them unless you're a trained and certified lifeguard. Otherwise, you could end up a second drowning victim.

  • Try to reach the victim from the side of the pool. If the victim is close enough, make sure you stay low to the ground and maintain a low center of gravity, while reaching out to them with your hand. Pull them out of the pool or assist them in getting to the nearest ladder and then out.
  • Turn a towel into a rope. If you can't reach the victim with a hand, grab a towel and coil it up into a makeshift rope. Swing one end out to the drowning victim while you hang onto the other end. Drag the towel in with the victim in tow and help them out of the water.
  • Use a pole or leaf skimmer. A swimming pool usually has these sorts of poles laying around, either for rescue purposes or cleaning and maintenance. And they often can telescope in and out, making them ideal to aid a drowning victim who is further away from the side of the pool.

Pro Tip #2: If using a pole to assist a drowning victim, make sure you're standing with your forward-leading foot out in front of you. Lean back and use your weight as a counterbalance. Extend the pole and lower it down beside the victim. Once they grab it, lean back and pull them to safety.

  • Use a life jacket or floatation device. If the victim is too far out to reach any other way, see if there are some floatation devices, like pool noodles or life jackets that you can toss out to them. Once the victim has the floatation device, instruct them to kick their feet and encourage them to keep coming, as they're likely exhausted and scared. Pull them to safety once they reach the side of the pool.

If you called 911 and activated EMS, it's a good idea to keep them coming, especially if the victim took in some water. There could be some potential breathing issues or an aspirational pneumonia developing.

Warning: If the victim is unresponsive when pulled from the water, begin CPR immediately. And always call 911 as soon as you think there's an emergency. If it turns out there isn't an emergency, you can always cancel the 911 call. But if turns out to be a real emergency, you'll be glad you activated EMS.

A Word About Drowning

When it comes to drowning, there are several critical facts and statistics to be aware of.

  • Some important statistics. Drowning is the fifth most common cause of death from accidental injury in the United States for all ages, and it rises to the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14. And males are more than three times more likely to drown than females.
  • On the threat of drowning. Younger children can drown at any moment, even in as little as an inch of water. Young children commonly drown in home pools. Children with seizure disorders are 13 times more likely to drown than those without such disorders.
  • Early recognition is key. Most people who are drowning spend their energy trying to keep their mouth and nose above water. As you learned earlier, recognizing someone who seems to be having trouble in the water, but is not calling out for help, may help save their life.
  • There are three types of water-related victims:
    • A distressed swimmer who is too tired to continue but afloat.
    • A drowning victim who is active and vertical but not moving forward.
    • A drowning victim who is passive, floating, or submerged and not moving.
  • Don't become a victim yourself. Only those trained in swimming rescues should enter the water to assist with drowning emergencies. For your safety, look for a lifeguard before attempting a rescue, have the appropriate safety equipment, call for additional resources immediately if you do not have that equipment, and only swim out if you have the proper training, skills, and equipment.