What to Do in a Water Emergency? - Central County Fire & Rescue

What to Do in a Water Emergency?

If you or someone else were drowning, would you know what to do? Ten people die each day from unintentional drowning, but these deaths are largely preventable with proper water safety precautions and quick thinking in case of emergency!

If you’re in trouble …

  • Stay calm. Lay back and float, keeping your face out of the water so that you can breathe normally. Try to get someone’s attention by waving your hands or yelling.
  • Toss away anything that might be weighing you down, like shoes or bags.
  • If you are tired, lie back and tilt your head back so you’re looking at the sky to help your body stay afloat.
  • Don’t try to fight the current; instead, try to escape along the edge of the current (generally parallel to the shore) or go with it until you no longer feel like it is pulling you.

If someone else is in trouble … 

  • Reach or throw, don’t go! 
    • Going in the water to help someone who is having trouble could cause you to get in trouble too. Instead, throw a flotation device (ie. a rescue tube or life jacket) or extend a long pole for the drowning person to hold on to.
  • Once the drowning person is on dry land, begin resuscitation/CPR immediately (if needed). Use blankets or other warm layers to bring the person’s body temperature back to normal (if needed).
  • If you spend a lot of time on the water, consider getting CPR certified so that you feel prepared in case of emergency.