Don’t Panic, Do This First Aid for Drowning Victims

Don't Panic, Do This First Aid for Drowning Victims — Drowning is an accident that has a high risk of causing death. The reason is, drowning victims generally have difficulty asking for help, so they don’t attract the attention of people around them.

Meanwhile, if you don’t get help right away, the victim can find it increasingly difficult to breathe underwater. Therefore, it is important for you to be alert and respond quickly to first aid for drowning victims.

First Aid for Drowning Victims

Doing water sports such as swimming, surfing, diving, or snorkeling is fun. However, anyone can be at risk of drowning while doing activities in the water.

People who can swim can drown if the swimming technique they do is not right.

Drowning can be life threatening because water can enter from the nose and mouth into the lungs, blocking the airway.

When water fills the airways, it is possible for the victim to experience respiratory failure and lose consciousness. If help is late, of course, it can have a fatal impact.

However, you also need to be careful when helping someone who is drowning.

When helping a drowning person, first aid must also keep your own safety in mind.

To be safe, follow the first aid steps for drowning victims as follows.

1. Looking for help

If you notice someone drowning, the first thing you should do is scream to get the attention of those around you.

Also seek help from security personnel on site or immediately call the emergency number at 118.

Even if you can swim, you shouldn’t go straight into the water to perform first aid on a drowning victim.

While waiting for help and things are safe, try to pull the victim to the ground using a long stick, rope, swimming band, or nearby object.

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You can also try to reach the victim by hand if at all possible. While trying to pull the victim out of the water, try not to panic and calm the victim.

2. Lifting the victim out of the water

According to the International Federation of Red Cross, the only safe way to help drowning people is to swim by trained personnel or people with excellent swimming skills.

If circumstances require you to swim closer, make sure you can actually swim and have enough strength to lift the victim back to land.

One thing that is also important, you should also bring adequate swimming equipment such as a buoy or rope.

Also make sure that someone else is ready to help you bring the victim ashore. When swimming to help a drowning person, approach the victim from the back in a calm manner.

Hold the body firmly by supporting the lower part of the victim’s neck above the surface of the water as you pull him ashore.

When pulling the victim out of the water, keep the neck and head supported to watch for neck and head injuries.

3. Check the victim’s breathing

When you succeed in helping the drowning victim get out of the water, immediately lay the victim in a safe and flat place in a supine position.

Remove wet clothing and cover the victim as soon as possible with a warm cloth, towel or blanket.

After that, lift his head slightly upwards. However, if you suspect a neck or head injury, avoid lifting the head, but opening the jaw slightly.

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Try to check for breathing by bringing your ear to the victim’s mouth and nose to feel for a puff of air.

Also pay attention to whether the chest is moving up and down to indicate the victim is still breathing. If the victim is not breathing, check for a pulse for 10 seconds.

Give the drowning victim 5 rescue breaths in the following manner.

  • Pinch the person’s nose and place your pursed lips above their mouth.
  • Inhale as usual and slowly blow air (1-2 seconds at a time) into his mouth.
  • If dealing with a child under one year of age, simply close your lips and exhale without pinching the nose.

Before starting the next rescue breath, notice if the victim’s chest is rising and falling.

If the victim vomits, tilt his head to prevent him from choking.

4. Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) by hand

If when lifted to the ground, the person is unresponsive and not breathing, immediately start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Giving CPR can actually be done by directly applying pressure to the chest without first giving artificial respiration.

Launching Saint John Ambulance, this is a CPR way to help drowning adults and children over 1 year old.

  • Place the bottom of the wrist of one hand in the center of the victim’s chest, and place the other hand on top of it.
  • Press your hands down about 5 cm. Make sure not to press the ribs.
  • Perform 30 chest compressions, at a rate of 100 compressions per minute or more.
  • Allow the chest to rise completely before applying pressure again.
  • Check if the victim is starting to react or is breathing.
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Meanwhile, here are CPR ways to help drowning people under the age of 1 year.

  • Place two fingers on the sternum.
  • Press down to a depth of 1 – 2 centimeters (cm). Make sure not to press the ends of the sternum.
  • Perform 30 chest compressions at a rate of 100 compressions per minute or more.
  • Allow the chest to rise completely between compressions.
  • Check if the victim begins to breathe.

If the victim is still not breathing, perform two short rescue breaths followed by 30 chest compressions.

Keep repeating this cycle until the person starts breathing or medical help arrives.

After receiving CPR, the victim should immediately seek follow-up medical assistance to check for complications or organ damage.

Note: the instructions above are not intended as a substitute for CPR training. You can get official CPR training through the Indonesian Red Cross or other health care institutions.

5. Warm the victim’s body

When the victim is conscious and conditions allow, remove the body to a dry and warm place to rest.

However, do not immediately wash the victim with warm water or massage his feet if he is shivering.

Just keep the body warm and dry by adding a blanket or warm clothes.

Always accompany and check vital signs such as pulse and breathing and how well the drowning victim is responding until medical help arrives.

The most important thing when performing first aid on a drowning victim is to keep yourself calm. Don’t let yourself get hurt when you help drowning victims.

That way, you can think clearly and seek help around you, either by using a assistive device or by enlisting the help of trained personnel.

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