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Helping the victim of drowning may be dangerous to the first aider as, in many cases, rescue from the water is first necessary. Apart from the dangers of an uncooperative and struggling casualty who may render the potential rescuer in need of urgent rescue from drowning, there are other hazards.

Open water can be cold, even during the summer months. Temperatures in the range of 3 o-15 o C (37 o -59 o F) are common, with inland waterways in some countries freezing at times during the winter. Normal body temperature is 37 o C (98.4 o F) so a considerable drop in body temperature can occur following immersion.


Even a strong swimmer may be unable to swim due to the effects of cold.

Uncontrollable gasping on entering cold water, which may lead to inhalation of water.

Heart attack due to a sudden rise in blood pressure.

Onset of hypothermia which causes lethargy so that the victim is slow to recognise danger.

Drowning in the home.

Any pool of water is potential hazard to toddlers and young children. Drownings occur in 2-3 in (5-7cm ) of water. Obvious risk areas are the bath, paddling pools, fish ponds and water barrels.



Very few people drown because their lungs fill with water. As water enters the casualty’s throat, the muscles clamp shut. Water continues to enter the casualty’s stomach and this can cause a problem if it is inhaled following rescue.


Do & Dont’s

Don’t enter the water yourself unless absolutely necessary.

Do send for any proffessional help that is rapidly available in the area, e. g. lifeguards, beach officers.

Don’t try to tow the casualty (unless you are a trained person).

Do stay on land. Wade to a safe depth of (i.e. top of thighs) and throw a rescue ring or rope, or try to reach the casualty with a stick or similar.

When the casualty has been rescued.

Check the ABC of Resuscitation(children)and act appropriately.

Do not attempt to pump any water from the casualty’s lungs or stomach.

Keep the casualty (and rescuers who have entered the water) warm, wrap them in blankets/clothing.

Call for an ambulance.


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