Water Safety: First Aid for Near-Drowning Situations

Water activities can provide fun and relaxation, but they also come with inherent risks, including the possibility of near-drowning incidents. Near-drowning occurs when a person has experienced a submersion event in water, and prompt action is crucial to prevent further harm and save lives. In this guide, we will discuss important first aid measures to take in near-drowning situations. By understanding the signs, providing immediate care, and seeking appropriate medical attention, you can play a vital role in assisting those involved in near-drowning incidents. Remember, prevention is key, and always prioritize water safety to avoid such emergencies.

  1. Recognizing a Near-Drowning Situation:

Near-drowning incidents can happen quickly and silently. Look for the following signs:

- Gasping for air or difficulty breathing

- Unresponsiveness or unconsciousness

- Bluish skin color or pale complexion

- Coughing or vomiting

- Weak or absent pulse

- Frothy fluid coming from the mouth or nose

  1. Ensuring Safety:

Before providing first aid, ensure your own safety and the safety of others. Assess the environment for potential dangers, such as strong currents or hazardous conditions, and take appropriate measures to secure the area.

  1. Calling for Emergency Assistance:

If you witness a near-drowning incident, immediately call emergency services or ask someone nearby to do so. Time is critical in these situations, and professional medical help is essential.

  1. Removing the Person from the Water:

If it is safe to do so, remove the person from the water as quickly as possible. Use appropriate rescue techniques, such as reaching out with a pole, throwing a flotation device, or swimming to their aid. Remember, personal safety should always be a priority.

  1. Assessing Consciousness and Breathing:

Check if the person is responsive and breathing:

- Check responsiveness: Tap the person gently and ask if they are okay. Look for any signs of responsiveness, such as movement, eye opening, or verbal response.

- Check breathing: Observe for chest rise and fall, listen for breath sounds, and feel for breath on your cheek near the person's mouth and nose. If they are not breathing, begin CPR immediately.

  1. Performing CPR:

If the person is not breathing or has no pulse, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately:

- Position the person: Place them on a firm, flat surface, preferably on their back.

- Perform chest compressions: Position your hands on the center of the person's chest, interlock your fingers, and push hard and fast. Perform compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.

- Provide rescue breaths: Tilt the person's head back, lift their chin, and give two slow breaths. Watch for the chest to rise with each breath.

- Continue CPR: Alternate between chest compressions and rescue breaths in a ratio of 30 compressions to 2 breaths. Do not stop CPR until professional medical help arrives or until the person shows signs of life.

  1. Clearing the Airway:

If the person is coughing or vomiting, position them on their side to prevent choking and keep the airway clear. This helps to avoid further complications and ensures that any fluid or debris can drain out safely.

  1. Providing Emotional Support:

Near-drowning incidents can be traumatic for both the affected individual and witnesses. Offer reassurance and emotional support to help calm the person and alleviate their anxiety. Remain calm and composed, as your presence and demeanor can positively impact their well-being.

  1. Seeking Medical Evaluation:

Even if the person appears to recover fully after a near-drowning incident, it is crucial to seek medical evaluation. There can be delayed complications, such as secondary drowning or respiratory issues, which require medical attention. A healthcare professional can provide a thorough assessment and necessary treatment.

  1. Preventing Future Incidents:

Water safety and prevention are essential in reducing the risk of near-drowning incidents. Follow these preventive measures:

- Learn to swim: Enroll in swimming lessons and ensure that all family members have basic swimming skills.

- Use life jackets: Encourage the use of Coast Guard-approved life jackets, especially for non-swimmers or in situations where water conditions may be unpredictable.

- Supervise closely: Always supervise children and weak swimmers near water, even if they have swimming skills. Avoid distractions and maintain constant visual contact.

- Follow water safety rules: Observe posted signs, swim in designated areas, and adhere to safety guidelines specific to the water environment.

- Learn CPR: Get certified in CPR and keep your skills updated. CPR can save lives and provide crucial support until professional help arrives.


Near-drowning incidents are potentially life-threatening, but with prompt action and appropriate first aid, lives can be saved. Recognizing the signs, removing the person from the water, performing CPR if necessary, and seeking professional medical help are vital steps in providing immediate care. Remember to prioritize personal safety, call emergency services, and provide emotional support to those involved in near-drowning incidents. Prevention is key, so ensure water safety measures are in place, such as learning to swim, using life jackets, and maintaining constant supervision. By combining preparedness, vigilance, and the appropriate first aid response, you can play an essential role in preventing further harm and promoting water safety.

First Aid
Back to blog