According to the CDC, an average of ten people die each day from unintentional drowning, and it’s the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States. Of the deaths that do occur, 20 percent are children younger than 15. While that is troubling in and of itself, even for people who survive drowning, 50 percent of those treated in emergency rooms experience long lasting complications, including memory problems, learning disabilities, and even a permanent vegetative state. All this is to say that it’s so important to learn first aid for drowning and to know what to do if someone ends up in distress in a pool or other body of water. To help you, we’re sharing some tips so you know what to do in an emergency.
Recognizing the Signs of Drowning
Many people think someone who is drowning will thrash around and yell for help, but often that’s not the case, especially with children. Instead, look for these signs:
- Silence or gasping; Someone who is drowning won’t be able to yell for help, they’ll be gasping for air. Look at their facial expressions for panic or fear.
- Head tilted back; The victim will keep their head back to avoid water in their mouth and nose.
- Arms pushing downward; A drowning victim will try and get a hold of something solid, and will make arm movements like they’re pushing off of a table when standing up or putting their hands on the ground when standing up from the floor.
- Floating face down; If someone is horizontal and face down in a pool for more than 30 seconds, assume they need help and, if you can reach them safely, do so.
- Failing to come up from a dive; Jumping into water and not coming back up is one of the quickest ways drowning happens.
- Away from an adult; If a child is outside of arms reach of an adult, especially if they have floaties on, they may be in distress.
If you see these signs, and you can safely rescue and remove the child from danger, do so immediately. Otherwise, if you’re not a strong swimmer or the water isn’t safe, scream for a lifeguard and throw the victim a flotation device. Time is imperative as drowning can literally happen in seconds.
Providing First Aid for Drowning
After you have pulled the child out of the water, assess them to see if they are having difficulty breathing or are unconscious. Even if they seem fine but had a near-drowning episode where they were in severe distress, it’s important to get them emergency first aid to ensure they’re okay. While waiting on 911, follow these steps:
- Check for breathing by placing your ear near the child’s mouth and nose and see if you feel air or see their chest moving.
- If they are not breathing, provide rescue breathing by placing them on their back on a firm surface, tilt their head back and lift the chin enough to open the jaw.
- Pinch the nose closed and place your mouth over the child’s mouth, ensuring a tight seal, and blow into their mouth steadily for one full second. Repeat a second time.
- Begin chest compressions by placing the heel of your hand in the center of their chest, between the nipples, placing your other hand on top.
- Press down around 2 inches for each compression, doing 30 at the rate of 100 compressions per minute. (Sing the BeeGee’s song, “Stayin’ Alive” and do compressions at that beat).
- Repeat 2 breathes then 30 compressions until help arrives.
Getting Pediatric First Aid Certification
If you work at a day care or are a parent, knowing exactly what to do in the event of an emergency could save a child’s life. While this guide can help you know what to do in the event you need information related to first aid for drowning, taking a class and being CPR certified ensures you have the proven ability to perform life-saving first aid.
Learn More About Adult & Pediatric First Aid
If you would like to learn more about CPR and first aid certification for childcare and parents, we can help. We offer CPR classes at our Raleigh training center, and we can also come to your business or organization. To schedule a class for your business, reach out to us today at (919) 639-4848 or fill out the form below to learn more.