Drowning is defined as respiratory impairment following submersion or immersion in fluid. Drowning is the fourth leading cause of accidental death in the United States. There is an estimate 9,000 causalities and 80,000 near drowning accidents annually. Approximately, 40% of the drowning accidents are related to children below 4 years of age. Drowning is often associated with the following: inability to swim, diving injuries, swimming while intoxicated with alcohol, hypothermia, and fatigue.
It is important to grab a flotation device as rescuing a victim of drowning can be extremely dangerous as victims will grab anything to stay afloat and the rescuer can inadvertently drown in a rescue attempt. When removing the victim from the water, it is important to check the patency of airway and turn patient to lateral side allowing the water to clear out from the upper airway while removing any mud, dentures etc. Since drowning can result in hypoxemia, immediate attention must be given to calling 911 and administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if the victim does not have a pulse. It is also critical to wrap the individual in a warming blanket if the temperature is low and if the victim is still not revived continue CPR until help arrives.
So stay safe this summer and if having a pool party or going to the lake or river, make sure that someone is monitoring the kids and those that can't swim. If something happens, call 911 and if the victim doesn't have a pulse then begin CPR.
Smeltzer, S., Bare B., Brunner and Suddarth’s Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing 10th Edition, 2008, Lippincott-Raven Publishers.
Dr. Tracy A. Jones is an American Heart Association, ASHI, and American Red Cross Master Program Trainer, Instructor, & AHA Faculty Member located in San Antonio, Texas.