DROWNING: PREVENTION, RESCUE, TREATMENT
Drowning is the process of respiratory impairment due to immersion or submersion in a medium liquid. It may lead to morbidity, no morbidity and mortality.
The terms secondary drowning, dry drowning, wet drowning and near-drowning have been abandoned.
In the majority of the drowning episodes that lead to death, there is even a small amount of liquid in the lungs of the victim. If there is not, then the victim died possibly by another cause before entering into the water.
A drowning episode, except death leads to several other consequences. One possible consequence is that 90% of the couples whose child died by drowning, divorce within 5 years. The costs for hospitalizing a drowning survivor are high both for the family and the society. The life of those that care for the life of a drowning survivor with neurological problems is seriously loosing in quality both emotionally, financially and socially. A small percent among the 20% of those that visited the “other side” had a distressing near-death experience that describes it as hellish and unpleasant.
Water Safety Tips
It is impossible to fully report the drowning episodes because the countries that are in the danger of ranking higher, are those that do not have a reliable reporting system. For example, if the victim never reaches the hospital, it does not count as a drowning death for the national statistics of this country. In addition, the most vulnerable countries, there is also a lack of hospitals! Also the death by a tsunami or after the fall of a car or airplane in the water is not classified as drowning; as a result the drowning problem is severely underestimated.
About one million people die by drowning each year (i.e., about one person every 30 seconds) while about four more millions are admitted to the hospital for precautions. The male to female rates are 4:1.
Many incidents take place within the first 10m from the land and rarely in distances greater than 50m. Most of these incidents are preventable. The high risk time is between 12-4pm; the high risk people are those between 0-5 years old and the elderly, those that consume alcohol and exhibit a risk taking behavior.
To avoid drowning, apply the following safety rules:
To save someone, apply one of the following mehods:
1. Shout rescue. Sit on the edge of the land and direct the victim to swim towards the safety.
2. Reach rescue. Lay down on the land and extend your hand, leg or an object. Instruct the victim to grab your limb or object so you can pull them out.
3. Throw rescue. Throw a rope; throw bag, circular buoy, lifejacket, ball, or whatever that has some buoyancy. When the victims grab the buoyant object, encourage them to keep the head above the water surface and kick the legs until they will reach the land.
4. Reach rescue. Lay down on the land and extend your hand, leg or an object. Instruct the victim to grab your limb or object so you can pull them out.
5. Row rescue. The use of a boat requires that the rescuer will know how to use it. Its advantages are that the rescuer can approach quicker than by swimming the victim and return safely back to the land.
6. Swim-with-aid rescue. Before you enter the water, take with you something that has some buoyancy. Approach the victim and extend the buoant object to avoid body contact. The object can be anything like a rescue tube or can, a lifejacket or a ball, an umbrella or a t-shirt. The aim is to maintain some safety distance between you and the casualty.
7. Body contact tow rescue. It is the most difficult and demanding technique. It must be applied only by a trained person. The rescuer approaches the victims from the rear, to avoid a potential grab. A towing method can be made if the victims are grabbed by the shoulders, clothes, wrist, arm, armpits, or the jaw with one or two arms. If the casualties are conscious, reassure them. If they submerge, bring them to the safety and administer a mouth-to-nose resuscitation.
The safest methods for a trained person are the first four. The “golden rule” of safety is that the rescuer should not place his life at risk.
After the water rescue, the drowning victim needs additional treatment:
IF there is not breathing, it is necessary to call the ambulance and provide basic life support (cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the placing into the recovery position), until ambulance arrives to provide defibrillation and advanced life support.
If the victims are breathing, reassure them.
If they are cold, cover them with something warm.
If the victims are concerned about their personal belongings or their relatives, make sure that the last will be notified about the situation.