How to Survive When You're Drowning

posted by Jimmy Nguyen -

Being in the water is fun, but it can also be dangerous

Over 372,000 people every year and is the 3rd biggest cause of unintended deaths in the world, 2nd for children. Most drownings happen in freshwater lakes, streams, rivers, beaches, and swimming pools. 

When water enters a person's lungs, they begin to drown. The body panics by closing the trachea muscles, which causes the throat to close up... which makes it nearly impossible for someone to scream for help. 


How do you know when someone is drowning?

You'll usually notice their head is positioned low in the water while their mouth is near water level. Their eyes will usually be still without any movement. 


How do I rescue a drowning person?

The first thing you have to do is find an object like a pole, rope, float, or long stick so that you can reach for the person from shore. If this doesn't apply to the situation and jumping in is your only choice, find an object that floats before you jump in.  The reason being that if you're trying to rescue someone who is drowning and panicking, you may become a victim when they grab on to you and pull with down with them. 

When approaching the victim, try to reach them from behind so that they can't grab on to you while panicking. 


How to stay afloat if you're drowning

A swim coach at Georgia Institute of Technology in 1936-1964 named Fred Lanoue developed a technique that could keep a person floating using only a small amount of energy. He called it "drown-proofing." 

He claimed that a person can float in an upright position with only their mouth and nose above the water to breathe. According to Lanoue, anyone can survive for long periods of time in the water once this technique has been mastered. This would allow a swimmer to rest for a period of time while in the water before swimming again.  

Here are some basics on "drown-proofing"

  1. Take a deep breathe and fill your lungs with fresh air, relax, and float in the water with only the back of your head, and hands above the water. 
  2. When you're ready to take a breath, simply push down with your hands until your mouth is above the water and take a breath. 
  3. Repeat every 10-15 seconds as necessary.

Here's an example of the technique:

How infant self-rescue classes work:

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