Swimming is one of the most popular recreational activities, especially during the hot summer months. Unfortunately, many people around the world die from drowning every year, due to lack of familiarity with swimming skills.
Though the best way to mitigate the risk of drowning is to learn how to swim, still there are some basic swimming survival techniques that can keep non-swimmers from drowning.
Things to do if you feel like you’re drowning
When you feel like drowning, the most important thing is to stay calm. While keeping calm, check if your feet can touch the ground.
If water is deeper than your height, immediately remove any heavy appliances at your disposal (for example, shoes and heavy items inside your pockets), then try to get close to the water’s surface so you can breathe.
How to float in water?
Back float (Starfish float) is one of the most effective ways to prevent drowning, even if you do not know how to swim. Naturally, the more air you keep in your lungs, the better you stay afloat on the surface of the water. So try to hold most of the air inside your lungs, and exhale only a small part of it.
Furthermore, holding a floating object (such as an empty bottle) can help you to perform back flotation more easily. Learning this technique requires some exercises, so try to float, next time you go to the swimming pool.
Use personal flotation devices for drowning prevention
Nowadays, there are a variety of different flotation devices that can save your life, while you are in danger of drowning. Life jackets and lifebuoys are among the most widely used flotation devices and are necessary whenever there is a danger of drowning.
Moreover, if you do not know swimming you should always use appropriate flotation aids such as a waist belt or armbands.
However, the use of above-mentioned flotation devices for swimming is cumbersome. Consequently, for those who know swimming, it is suitable to wear an inflatable wristband or inflatable life jacket. With these types of equipment, you can swim more easily, and when you are at risk, you can activate them and save yourself from drowning.
Make a life jacket out of pants
You need three empty plastic bottles and a pair of pants to make a life jacket. First, put one bottle in the bottom of the pants. Then place two other bottles on pants’ legs and tie them firmly.
Temporary floating objects can save your life
If you fall into the water fully clothed and have some familiarity with swimming, you can use your clothing to make temporary flotation devices. Tie the pants’ legs together, pull them out of the water to fill legs with air and finally squeeze the waist tightly. This creates a temporary floating object that will raise you to the surface for a while. When the air leaks out, just fill it up the same way.
You can also use backpacks, long socks, swimsuits, and even underwear to make temporary flotation devices.
Escape from a sinking car
You should always be careful while you are driving especially where there is the danger of falling into the water. If despite all of your efforts it happened, do not waste your time too much for opening the door, because usually, you cannot open the door due to water pressure. So, you should go out through the window. If you cannot open the window, try to break it using seat’s headrest. Push down one of the headrest pegs into the plastic near the window, then pull it back to break the window. If you cannot break the window using this technique, wait until water enters the car. Now, the pressures on both sides are nearly the same, which makes opening the door much easier.
How to save a drowning victim?
It is possible that you be in a place that a person is drowning and needs some urgent help. Many people who know swimming might be eager to save the victim, but they do not know how to do it.
The way that you can save a victim, depends on whether you know lifeguard techniques or not. If you have received lifeguard training, you will be able to swim to the victim and bring her back to safety.
Though, you should never do it, if you are not familiar with lifeguard techniques. In this case, you should find a floatation device and give it to the victim.
If there were no life-saving appliances (such as lifebuoy), use your creativity to make flotation devices by everyday objects.
Objects that can be used as an improvised flotation device
• Plastic bottles such as soda, water, or juice bottles
• Leak-proof food containers
• Vacuum Flask, water jug, and foam ice chest
• Plastic bags such as freezer bags and trash bags
• Packaged snacks, such as potato chips and popcorn
• Balloons and balls
• Air mattress and air cushion
• Wood: If a large piece of wood is not available, make a bundle of scrap woods using rope
• Car’s spare tire
It is better to tie some of these flotation devices together with a rope and throw them to the victim, then pull the victim to safety using rope.
Before throwing lightweight objects such as plastic bags and bottles, pour some water in them.
If the distance is too far and you cannot throw the object, approach the victim by swimming from behind and give him the buoyant object to hold onto. Do not let the victim grab you, but if this happens, swim down underwater.
After catching the floating object, the victim should only keep his head out of the water to breathe. Prevent drowning victim from climbing the floatation object, because there is a high possibility that he falls into the water and object get out of his reach.
First aid for drowning
Even if the drowning victim seems healthy, have them see a doctor as soon as possible. Entering a small amount of water into the lungs can cause death within a few hours.
If the victim has been underwater for a long time, resuscitation may still be possible. For example, in one case a child survived after being submerged for one hour in 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) water. So, begin resuscitation immediately after pulling drowning victim out of the water.
If the victim is unconscious and is not breathing remove any obstructions such as mud from his airway but do not try to remove water from his lungs. Remove airway obstruction by tongue using head-tilt/chin-lift technique and perform rescue breathing. If the victim is not breathing, perform two rescue breaths first, and then begin CPR. Rescue breathing is difficult at first, but after a while, aspirated water absorbs into the bloodstream and it will be easier to do.
Victims who dive into shallow waters have a high risk of spinal injury. So, saving such a victim is harder because you should prevent any movement or twisting of the head, neck and the rest of the spinal cord. As usual, when you moved the victim to a safe place, you should check for breathing. If the victim is not breathing, use the jaw-thrust technique to eliminate the danger of airway obstruction by the tongue.