Preventing a Drowning

By: Sahar El Hodiri
By: Sahar El Hodiri

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It happens silently and quickly. In a matter of seconds, someone can drown. Here's how to keep someone from drowning and what you can do to save your own life.

It only takes seconds for someone to drown: an average of 60 seconds for an adult and 20 for a child. That's why you have to act fast. In the first minute, you need to call 911 and try to save the victim. Throw them something that floats. If you don't have a rescue device then just use a floatable pool toy. Don't go in the water yourself, just throw it in, have the victim reach for it and pull them in.

Mary Emanuel can't believe how quickly it can happen. Her son Adrian almost drowned in a pond, but she was able to pull him out. He's fine now. At five years old he's started taking swimming lessons along with his 2 year old brother Andrew. Emanuel wants them to feel like they know how to get back to shore and climb up or how to get out of a pool.

Time is always the most critical thing. In the 2nd minute, the victim is submurged...minute 3, they may lose conciousness. After 4 to 6 minutes, they could suffer irreversible brain damage and more. Sue Rankin with the American Red Cross says that's the maximum time that we could go without any oxygen, then everything starts to shut down.

Begin rescue breathing and CPR if you know how. If not, call 911, an operator can walk you through the steps.

How can you rescue yourself? Wichita Swim Club director Teresa Hessel says to do the survival bob when you can touch the bottom: diagonal moves get you to the water's edge quicker. If you can't touch the bottom and you're too tired to keep swimming the survival float can help you rest for a few seconds so you can swim to safety.

Most children who survive are found within 2 minutes of submersion. Most who die are found after 10 minutes.

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