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Every Inch of Water Will Matter

drowningIf one is asked to name a popular person who died of drowning, Natalie Wood’s name would most likely come up. A promising actress, Wood was best known for her role as Maria in the musical film West Side Story. The mystery behind her death makes her untimely demise an interesting story. Wood was on a trip with her husband fellow actor Robert Wagner when she drowned near their yacht. Her death was ruled as an accident by drowning and hypothermia. According to autopsy reports, Wood had been drinking that night and may have slipped when she tried to re-board the dinghy. However, in 2011, the case was re-opened when the captain of the boat claimed that he lied to police during the preliminary investigation. Wood’s death was then ruled as due to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”

Drowning can happen within 20 seconds, even in water levels that are only inches deep. When it comes to drowning or near drowning, timing is very critical. If the brain does not receive sufficient oxygen, damage can occur within minutes. Never leave a child unattended when they are in or near water. Some signs of drowning include face floating down, attempting to swim in a certain direction but with no progress, gasping for air and head tilted back with mouth open.

If there is a lifeguard present, notify immediately. If not, ask someone to call for emergency medical services. If the rescuer is alone, remove the person from the water. If the rescuer does not know how to swim, lay the stomach area down close to the edge and reach for the victim. If a life-saving ring is close, make use of this to pull the child to safety. The rescuer may also throw a rope or extend a pole. If the lone option is to enter the pool, carry a flotation device such as life jacket.

Once the victim is on land, check for responsiveness. Ask if he/ she is okay. If there is no response, the rescuer should check for breathing. The rescuer should position own cheek next to the victim’s nose and mouth. Feel for air on the cheek. Watch for rise and fall of chest. If there is no breathing, check for pulse for 10 seconds. If no pulse is detected, commence CPR. If after 30 compressions, there is still no breathing, give two rescue breaths. Continue performing the cycle of 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths until victim is initiates own breathing or until emergency medical assistance takes over. Cover the victim to avoid hypothermia and prevent body heat loss.

Extra precaution is required when handling victims of drowning. Assume that the victim has suffered a neck or spine injury, thus decrease any neck movements. The head may be taped to the backboard or stretcher to minimize the keep the head and neck still.

Some First Aid training offers St Mark James CPR courses that can help save a life. CPR is applicable to almost all emergency situations. Learning CPR and helping a victim can buy victims time needed to save their lives. Numerous articles can be read on how to administer CPR but CPR certification is irreplaceable. If possible, take CPR classes so one can be a trained rescuer.

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