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Rescue from Drowning

The list of Boy Scout heroes shows you what a large proportion of accidents are due to not knowing how to swim. It is therefore, most important that everybody should learn to swim, and, having done so, to learn how to save others from drowning.

A great Channel swimmer, writing in "The Boys' Own Paper", pointed out that a boy, when learning to swim, should learn first how to get in and out of a boat, i.e., by climbing in over the stern. Secondly, how to support himself on an oar or plank, i.e., by riding astride on it, or by catching hold of one end, and pushing it before him and swimming with his legs. Thirdly, how to get into a floating lifebuoy, i.e., by shoving the nearest side of it down under water and capsizing it over his head and shoulders, so that he is inside it when it floats. Fourthly, how to save life.

A moderate swimmer can save a drowning man if he knows how, and has practised it a few times with his friends.

The popular idea that a drowning person rises three times before he finally sinks is all nonsense. He may drown at once, unless someone is quick to help him.

The important point is not to let the drowning person catch hold of you when you get to him, or he may drown you too. Keep behind him always.

Put an arm across his chest and your hand under his armpit, telling him to keep quiet and not to struggle. If he obeys, you can easily keep him afloat. But otherwise be careful that in his terror he does not turn over and catch hold of you. If he should seize you by the neck place your arm round his waist, and the other hand, palm upwards, under his chin, with your finger-tips under his nose. Pull and push, and he must let go. If you find yourself clutched by the wrist, turn your wrist against his thumb and force yourself free. But you will never remember this unless you practise it frequently with other boys first, each taking turns in being the drowning man or the rescuer.

Any of you who cannot swim as yet, and who fall into the water out of your depth, remember that you need not sink if you take care to do the following things. First, keep your mouth upwards by throwing the head well back. Secondly, keep your lungs full of air by taking in long breaths, but breathe out very little. Thirdly, keep your arms under water. To do this you should not begin to shout, which will only empty your lungs, and you should not throw your arms about or beckon for help, because this will make you sink.

If you see a person fall into the water and begin to drown, and you yourself are unable to swim, throw a rope, or an oar or plank right to him, so that he may clutch at it and hold it. If a person falls through ice, and is unable to get out again because of the edges breaking, throw him a rope and tell him not to struggle. This may give him confidence until you can get a long ladder or pole across the hole, which will enable him to crawl out, or will allow you to crawl out to catch hold of him.

Author

Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell (Chief Scout, London, UK)

Date of Creation

1908

Learn A Continuation:

to the next page: Throwing a Lifeline

Back in The Past:

to the previous page: House on Fire!


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