Swimming Pool Emergency: the Steps to Follow
The old adage, better safe than sorry is one that swimming pool owners should always remember. Precautions are always essential, and by teaching your children to swim at an early age, they will have a better chance of coping in the event of a swimming pool emergency.
It is an unfortunate fact that accidents do happen and everybody should learn what to do when and if they occur. If you do not know how to give mouth-to-mouth and mouth-to-nose respiration it is a good idea to attend a first aid course and learn.
- Rule number one is not to panic. If a child or adult non-swimmer falls into the water, keep calm, but act fast. Every second counts.
- Once you have taken the child or adult out of the water, check that the airway is clear by sticking your fingers into their mouth. Put one arm under the neck and tilt the head back so that the nostrils are well up and the chin points forward. In this position the tongue will not block the air passages. Place your other hand on the forehead.
- Start artificial respiration immediately and keep on going until the victim has been revived. Do not give up unless a medical doctor says the child is dead. A person who stops breathing can die within minutes, so it is imperative to get air into the lungs as quickly as possible. Even if you have never given the kiss of life before, it is better to try than to do nothing at all.
- Pinch the nostrils closed with your thumb and index finger. Take a slightly deeper than normal breath; seal your lips over the mouth and blow in until the chest rises. Allow the chest to fall and then continue inflations at your natural rate of breathing (about three or four seconds) until the victim resumes breathing. If you are resuscitating a baby, cover both nose and mouth with your mouth and puff in gently and slightly faster than you would normally breath.
- Do not waste time trying to get fluid out of the lungs. The small amount of water which comes out of the mouth is usually from the stomach and there is always a danger that it might run back into the lungs. Some food and water may be brought up during artificial respiration, so turn the head to one side now and then and clear the mouth.
- Check for a pulse by putting your middle three fingers on the neck where the pulse is strongest. Do not use your thumb as it has its own pulse. If there is no pulse, bang on the chest hard in the region of the heart to try and get it beating again. Otherwise try heart massage: pump down with the heel of the hand at the lower end of the breastbone so that it is forced back towards the backbone.
- Once the patient is breathing again, turn him onto his side so he will not choke if anything comes up from the stomach. Lying in this so-called ‘coma position’ will help keep the airway open.
- Get the patient to a hospital as soon as possible, but stay with him until an ambulance arrives or until he is admitted. Check his breathing and pulse from time to time.
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