Proper Water Rescue
Never go near someone struggling to stay afloat because it’s easy for rescuers to become drowning victims themselves.
To help rescue someone, hold on to the dock or boat and extend a pole, stick, line or whatever is available to reach them. If they are too far to reach, throw something floatable to them.
Drowning Is A Silent Killer
An estimated 60 percent of all drownings are witnessed because people do not recognize the four signs of a drowning victim:
- Head back (bobs above/below the surface).
- Mouth open.
- No sound.
Arms outstretched moving simultaneously in an above-the-water, up-and-down stroke that resembles slapping at the water.
Drowning is very quiet, and the struggle lasts only 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.
Alcohol: Know The Dangers
When underwater and under the influence of alcohol or drugs, swimmers can suffer from an inner ear condition (caloric labyrinthitis) that causes them to become disoriented and not know which way is up. Boaters can develop “boater’s hypnosis,” in which sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion cause fatigue, impair judgment and slow reaction time. Alcohol or drugs intensifies the condition and can lead to deadly consequences.
Life Jacket Laws
Last year in Missouri, close to 90 percent of those killed in boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket. Missouri law requires boaters have a life jacket on board and accessible for each boat occupant. Children under the age of 7 must wear a life jacket whenever on a boat unless in the cabin area of a houseboat or cruiser. All personal watercraft users are required to wear life jackets.
5 Critical Water Skills
A new national survey from the American Red Cross shows that although 80 percent of Americans say they can swim, only 56 percent of the self-described swimmers can perform all five of the basic steps that could save their life in the water.
These critical water safety skills, also known as “water competency,” are the ability to:
- Step or jump into water over your head.
- Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute.
- Turn around in a full circle and find an exit.
- Swim 25 yards to the exit.
- Exit from the water, without needing the ladder if in a pool.
“Parents and caregivers should take advantage of the summer months to enroll children in Red Cross swim lessons and download the free Red Cross Swim App to track their progress,” says David Griffith, executive director of the Red Cross’ Heart of Missouri chapter. “Parents and caregivers, in addition to learning how to swim, should also know critical water safety rules and know how to respond to a water emergency, so they can protect children and others.”