Drowning Prevention Week

Sadly over 400 people will drown this year.

Drowning Prevention Week aims to educate people on water safety and highlights the dangers that can be fatal.

The most surprising fact is most of them had no intention of going in the water.

Drowning is the third highest cause of death in children and shockingly nine out of ten parents don’t know basic first aid. This highlights the importance of personal survival and simple rescue techniques.

All BSAR members are trained in basic water awareness. Within BSAR, specialist teams are given critical resources to save a life in the water. Specially trained team members carry essential PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and life saving equipment when searching in, and around, water. These include life jackets, buoyancy aids, dry suits, throw lines, reach poles & sticks.

Safety is the number one priority and we are very mindful of the risks when searching near or around water. To manage these risks, we adhere to the three zones of operation: Cold, Warm and Hot. Only trained and qualified Search Technicians can enter the Warm and Hot zones. Counter intuitively, the Cold zone is the furthest from the water!

BSAR has teams specially trained in flood response, bank searching and we have our own dedicated boat team.


What is the Difference Between Drowning and Aquatic Distress?

Drowning is not what you think it looks like. The violent, splashing call for help that most people expect is not what real drowning usually appears like. A person thrashing about and yelling is experiencing Aquatic Distress, they can still assist in their own rescue.

It’s the quiet person you should be worried about.

Signs you should look out for include:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Eyes glassy or closed
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder or legs vertical
  • Hair over the eyes or face

What do you do if you see someone in the water?

One of the main causes of drowning is Cold Water Shock. The body’s responses to cold-water immersion can be divided into three phases: 1) initial immersion and the cold-shock response (0-3mins) 2) short-term immersion and loss of performance (3-30mins) 3) long-term immersion and the onset of hypothermia (30mins +).


Do you need help?

Can you swim to the edge?

Can you stand up?

Get their attention and break their panic. Ask them if they need help, if they can swim to a shallow area or a barrier. They may be panicking and not realise the water is shallow enough to stand up.

Reach: Use a stick or a pole. Improvise with anything around you, brace yourself for a possible major force pulling you towards the water when contact with the casualty is made.

Throw: Find a lifering, public rescue aid or anything that floats. BSAR are trained to use throw lines and they are essential to us in water rescue.

What do you do if you find yourself in distress?

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RBLI) created the #FloatToLive campaign.

The shock of experiencing distress in the water triggers the instinct to gasp uncontrollably for breath, thrash about and try to swim which allows more water to enter the airway, increases the strain on the heart and can quickly lead to drowning. That is why is it important to stay calm, keep your head up and lean back in the water. Fight the instinct to swim or thrash around, only when you are floating and controlling your breathing can you call for help.

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