When rescuing a drowning individual from icy water, always remember that even if the individual needs help, it can be dangerous. In this life-threatening scenario, you have to hastily assess the chances and risks of endangering your life and the victim in case you decide to proceed with the rescue.
The icy temperature of the water increases the risk of the victim to become unconscious, thus immediate intervention is required in order to save his/her life.
Steps to take when rescuing a drowning individual
- There is limited time to work with if an individual is drowning, particularly in icy water. The initial move is to try to remove the individual out of the water while requesting someone to call for emergency assistance immediately.
- You have to quickly assess the scenario and priorities. Determine if you can reach the individual, if the ice is thin or can support your weight, if you are skilled in swimming or have enough strength to pull out the individual. All of these must be quickly yet carefully assessed before rushing into the dangerous situation. Additionally, you should also consider the likelihood of jeopardizing your life and others who are offering to assist with the rescue.
- In case the individual is close to the shore or the ice is dense enough to sustain your weight, you can reach out to the individual using a pole or long stick that he/she can hold on to. Once the individual has a firm hold on the object, pull the individual out of the icy water. You can also ask others to help pull out the individual.
- If the individual is too far out and could not be reached, you can try to lie down flat on the ice. Just make sure that the weight of your body and others who are helping out will not cause the ice to crack. Crawl carefully on the ice and extend a pole in front so that the individual can hold on to it. Once the individual has a secure hold on the pole, pull him/her quickly from the icy water.
- As a safety measure, form a human chain in which some helpers will lie flat on the ice while others are standing up. In case the ice cracks, this will allow others to pull those who fall into the water back to the shoreline.
- Once the individual is out from the icy water, cover him/her with warm clothing and blankets. Place him/her into the recovery position by turning on his/her side carefully. This will help drain out fluid from the mouth as well as prevent regurgitation. Do not do this if an injury to the neck or spine is suspected. Perform CPR if needed. While waiting for the medical team to arrive, keep the individual warm as possible in order to prevent him/her from becoming hypothermic.
When it comes to drowning scenarios, being skilled in CPR can help save a life. You can learn how to perform CPR properly by enrolling in a first aid course.