If you see someone drowning in the water and unable to call for help, act quickly to rescue him or her immediately because it can happen in a matter of minutes.


If there’s no lifesaving guard around, you’ll have to perform the rescue yourself. Do that only if you’re feeling prepared.

Step 1- Observe if the victim is drowning

There are many ways in you can see if the person is drowning by following if he/she is:

  • Struggling
  • Waging to remain with his mouth above the surface of the water
  • Unable to scream for help.

The person will become submerged in approximately 60 seconds, so you have to act quickly.

Step 2- Decide how you can save the person

It’s a good idea to call 911 immediately and shout for help no matter your experience or training. Other individuals can help you as well.

Based on the location and type of body of water the person is in, you should decide how you can rescue the person.

  1. a) If the person is close, use a reach method.

Lie face down on the edge of the pool. Spread your legs to be in a stable position. Don’t lose your balance. Reach out to the person and yell to grab your hand. If the individual is unable to catch it, dip the hook into the water and wrap it around the person’s torso.

Do not attempt a reaching assist from a standing position or you may be pulled into the water.

  1. b) If the individual is further away, use a ring buoy or other easy to throw rescue device to reach a victim further away from the shore.
  2. c) When the victim is out of reach, dive into the water and swim to the victim as a last resort. If you have a flotation device, take it with you.

Stay focused and announce the victim that you’re coming to their aid. If you panic, you are more likely to make mistakes, and you may also stress out the victim.

Step 3- Use a floating aid considering the circumstances

  • A floating aid with a line attached is ideal because the line can help you;
  • You can find a ring buoy, life jacket, and floating cushions at lifeguard stations at pools and outdoor swimming areas;
  • If the incident occurs while you’re out in the middle of a body of water, you can use the ring buoy of the boat.

Throw the floating aid.

  • Throw the ring just past the victim, then pull it to him or her with the rope.
  • Wind and current of the water should be taken into consideration as well, before you hurl the float. Throw it so that it lands within reach of the victim.
  • If you fail to throw the aid, try again with the same object or another.
  • If you do not have success, try another method or swim to push the device closer to the victim.

Throw a rope.

  • Coil the rope in your non-throwing hand. Tie a small loop on one end and place your wrist in the loop. Throw the ring, and let the rope uncoil freely from your hand. Step on the end of the line so that you do not accidentally throw the ring away.
  • Aim for the victim’s shoulder when throwing a line. Once he grabs the line, begin to pull it slowly until the victim can stand in shallow water.

Step 4- Swim to rescue the victim

Be sure that you are well trained or have excellent swimming skills before jump in the water to save someone. Victims are panicking which can make it hard to succeed a swimming rescue.

Do not try a swimming rescue without a buoy on hand. A drowning victim’s first reaction will be to climb on top of you, so you’ll need a flotation device to keep both of you safe and perform the rescue efficiently. Another option is to go in with a t-shirt or towel that the victim can grab onto.

Swim to the victim. Use your fastest moves to get to the drowning person. However, if you are in a large body of water, take care to avoid getting tossed back in a wave. Toss the buoy or rope for the person to grab.

Tell the victim to grab the object. Don’t swim right up to the victim, since he or she is likely to push you under the water. So, keep a safe distance between you and them.

Swim back to shore. Move in a straight line back to shore, towing the person behind you. Check back if they are still holding the buoy. Continue swimming until you make it safely back to shore, then exit the water.

It is safe to only enter the water if there is nothing around that could be used to reach the victim. If the victim is panicking, the best way to get a hold of their back of the shoulder from behind. It can be fatal to both the rescuer and the drowning victim.

What other techniques do you know and can be applied in this situation? Will you risk your life to safe another’s? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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1 Comment

  1. I might mention that if you decide to go rescue the person, here is a suggestion. Most cars have a spare tire. It floats. Try to take one with you. It will make it safer if you do not have anything else.

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