If you’re around open water there’s a chance that someone around you may need assistance. Whether they’ve gone too far out, have a cramp, or another unforeseen reason, there may be an emergency where you can help.
Just remember: Reach, Throw, and please DON’T GO.
If someone is showing signs that he or she is having trouble in the water and is close to shore or pool’s edge, you should be able to reach them with a nearby object. When you have an object ready, you’ll be able to help best by following these guidelines:
Stay out of the water.
Brace yourself on a pool deck, pier surface or shoreline.
Reach out to the person using any object that extends your reach, such as a pole, an oar, a paddle, a tree branch, a belt.
When the person grasps the object, slowly and carefully pull them to safety.
Keep your body low and lean back to avoid being pulled into the water.
If a person in need is out of your reach, the next best option is to throw an object that floats to them. This could be a kickboard, beach ball, ring buoy, or empty picnic cooler. At the Y, we teach kids in swim lessons how to help a person in need by throwing pool noodles in a pretend emergency to practice this skill.
Going in the water to help someone who is having trouble could place you in danger too. A distressed or panicked person – or event a pet – will always cause you to be in danger as they attempt to use you as a flotation device to save themselves. Only a lifeguard should get in the water to help a person in trouble.
We hope you’re never in an emergency situation, but if you are, you’ll have the tools and the knowledge to make the best decisions.