LEARN It! Challenge 11 of 12
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Swimming has long been a favorite pastime for many during the hot summer months, or for those who want to get exercise without risking major injury. Many, however, underestimate the risk of drowning. You can be aware of those risks and what can be done to avoid them, and through doing so, you just might save a life.

The Basics

Never swim alone. Make sure another competent swimmer is around when you decide to go into a pool, lake, or ocean. Also, supervise young children who are around filled and open bathtubs, pools, toilets, or any other water-containing vessel that could pose a risk.

Make sure children can swim independently before removing flotation devices. If a child wants to join in on the fun, but cannot swim, make sure they wear either a life jacket or floaties that can keep them above water. Even if they are wearing these safeguards, they should still not be left alone. Make sure that children do not roughhouse in the pool, especially if they think they are good enough swimmers to do so. It only takes one wrong move for a serious situation to occur.

Do not eat or drink alcoholic beverages while swimming. Wait 45 minutes after eating before you go in, even if it was a small amount of food. Eating and swimming can cause serious cramping that may impair your ability to swim. Drinking alcoholic beverages can also impair your judgement and coordination.

Keep any personal pools fenced in so that small children or adults, for that matter, do not fall in.

Know your limits. If you are feeling unusually tired, cold, or are struggling to catch your breath, get out immediately.

Avoid drains. Body parts, hair, and swimsuits can all be caught in the suction.

Assisting a Drowning Person

Do not attempt to help the drowning person if you do not have proper training. This could result in you and others being put in a perilous situation. Only intervene if there is no one who has proper training to help.

If there is a lifeguard around, immediately notify them.

If you are the only one around, do not hesitate. Retrieve the individual from the water. Drowning people may not know you are attempting to help them and will keep thrashing and struggling. Make sure you are a strong enough swimmer. If you are not a good enough swimmer, try throwing a flotation device to aid them before going in yourself. No matter what, they must be brought out of the water.

After they are removed from the water, you must check for breathing. Put your ear next to their nose and mouth to listen for breathing. See if their chest is moving.

If they are not breathing, check for a pulse. If there is no pulse, begin performing CPR. Have someone call 911 and keep performing CPR until the person responds or emergency medical services arrive.

How to Tell if Someone is Drowning:

  • Head tilted back and gasping as they try to breathe.
  • Hyperventilating
  • Vertical in the water with no leg movement
  • Water covering their nose and mouth
  • Hair covering their face. Most swimmers keep hair out of their face.
  • Unusual thrashing and struggling. May look as though they are trying to climb a ladder.
  • Head bobbing up and down without control in the water.
  • Weak strokes or struggling to stay afloat.
  • Trying to roll onto their back.
  • Unfocused, glossy eyes, or closed completely.

(Sources: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/child-safety/art-20044744; https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/drowning-treatment; https://www.pfizer.com/news/featured_stories/featured_stories_detail/how_to_tell_if_someone_is_drowning)