Local News

Pool safety essentials to aid drowning victims

Posted July 10, 2015

The vast majority of drownings happen in fresh water and highly visited areas during the summer months, according to emergency workers.

According to Jeff Hammerstein of Wake County EMS, people should learn the correct procedures to help a drowning victim so they’re ready to help if the moment arises.

“We have a picture in our heads of what drowning actually looks like,” Hammerstein said.

The picture of screams for help and flailing arms are often not reality when it comes to drowning.

“Much more still than you would think, much quieter,” Hammerstein said. “Every ounce of the being is trying to get that last gasp of air.”

Hammerstein said swimmers should stay near lifeguards and know where emergency flotation devices are located at all times. Additionally, parents should consider gates around pools and install alarms to keep toys that might attract children away from the water.

“Around 75 percent of fatalities from drowning in the U.S. are from children under five, and most of them are happening at residential pools,” Hammerstein said.

But drowning victims can have a fighting chance - if someone near knows CPR.

“We want you to stay focused on the uninterrupted chest compressions until we can get there and help,” Hammerstein said.

WRAL Health Team physician Dr. Allen Mask says time matters.

“The brain is very oxygen sensitive,” Mask said. “You are talking maybe three, at max four, minutes.”

At first, victims may try to hold their breath, but only for so long.

“You get a breathing reflex where you begin to inhale water anyway,” Mask said.


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