Imagine this: you’re hosting a party at your backyard pool. Everything is going great; the drinks are cold, the burgers are hot, and the music is loud. Everyone is having a great time. Suddenly, one of your guests starts to thrash in the water. You can’t tell if he is joking around at first, but
you start to realize that this person is drowning. His airways are blocked and his lungs are filled with so much water he can’t breathe. What do you do?
Drowning is a potential concern for anyone who spends any time in and around the water, regardless of whether you have a pool or not. Even if you don’t have a pool, even if it isn’t pool season, drowning is a risk. Children can drown in an inch of water (like slipping in the shower or bathroom), and 70% of all drowning incidents occur at home.
Drowning is not always thrashing water and theatric movement. Drowning is often silent and can definitely go unnoticed. Almost a quarter of all drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools with lifeguards present. The highest risks for drowning among children are greatest for children under five and between the ages of fifteen to twenty four.
We’ve covered some of the risks and statistics of drowning. Now it is time to focus on the important question: what do you do if someone is drowning? First, you must have someone call 911. If you know CPR, then delegate that job to someone else.
Second, you have to get the person out of the water. Once out, put your head near their nose and mouth. Do you hear breathing, feel air, or see their chest moving? If so, they might still need help, but not immediate CPR. If no breathing, check for a pulse. If no pulse, it is time to begin chest compressions immediately. (Remember, we are not CPR instructors, so it is important to get certified in CPR from licensed instructors to know how to do this correctly!)
When someone is drowning, the individual dies from the lack of oxygen caused by water in the lungs. That sounds like a no-brainer, but this is the key fact that determines much of the necessary, immediate care if you suspect someone is drowning. Chest compressions help to push that water out of the lungs and out of the body, and can help to create room for the lungs to move again. Chest compressions, as part of properly-trained CPR, can be the difference between life and death. Even a few seconds can make a significant difference in the treatment of a drowning victim; it can mean the difference between a complete recovery and death or significant brain damage.
Of all children who survive drowning the majority involve a child being rescued within two minutes, and of all children who die from drowning, they are not recovered until after 10 minutes. CPR is a critical step in ensuring that the most is done in those critical seconds after recovery to try to save someone’s life.
Drowning is not an easy topic to discuss, but it is of critical importance for all to recognize. Hopefully, this information and these steps can help people know more about how to best respond in the future.
Learn more about CPR and Drowning Prevention:
Drowning Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/SafeChild/Drowning/
Drowning Statistics: http://www.poseidon-tech.com/us/statistics.html
Drowning Treatment: http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/drowning-treatment