Drowning Assistance

The arm of a drowning victim flails in the water

Below is a series of helpful tips to ensure you know what to do to assist in a drowning emergency.

Maintain your own safety 

The most important thing you can do is ensure you don't also become a casualty. Firstly, call for assistance and then find something you can pass to the casualty so you can pull them out of the water.

If you do need to get into the water, make sure you take a floatation aid with you. If you don't have a flotation aid and are not a strong swimmer the best thing you can do is call for help.


The biggest killer in cases of drowning is a lack of oxygen in the body. In some instances, it may be necessary to commence rescue breathing while still in the water.

The principles of resuscitation in the water are similar to those for resuscitation on land. Establish a clear airway, tilt the head back gently and check for signs of breathing. Commence rescue breathing if necessary, at a rate of 1 breath every 3-4 seconds, and extract the casualty from the water as soon as possible. 

If you do manage to get the person out of the water and the person is not breathing, you must act quickly to get oxygen to their brain and organs. Immediately turn the person on to their side, open their airway and let any water or vomit drain out. Follow the Emergency Action Plan DRSABCD and if no signs of life are present immediately start CPR.

Using both hands together, one on top of the other, push down in the centre of their chest firmly, with your arms straight. Push down one-third the depth of their chest at a rate of 2 beats per second (try humming the song "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees).

Complete 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths repeatedly until the victim starts breathing normally or help arrives.

If the person starts breathing normally again before help arrives, roll them into the recovery position with their head tilted slightly back to help keep their airway open. If you’ve got any spare clothing to help keep them warm lay these over the top of them and reassure them that help is on its way.

If you follow these steps you will give a drowning victim the best chance of surviving. These are skills we all hope we never need to use, but it's vital that people in our community have these skills to assist when someone is in need. 

Learn these vital rescue skills by completing your Bronze Medallion, find out more at the link below.

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Learn more about Infant CPR at the link below.

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Why you should update your CPR skills.

image of two hands performing cpr

Research shows a person's skills in CPR decrease by 50% after just two months if they haven't practised the skill. Update your CPR certificate now!

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Three school students practicing CPR on a resuscitation manikin

Learn CPR and first aid in your classroom

We have a variety of training programs for the classroom and the swimming pool. First aid and CPR are skills that all students can learn.

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