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Suffocation - First Aid for Near Drowning

Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the injury?

First aid for near drowning includes the following steps:

  • Get the drowning person out of the water without placing yourself in danger. Tie a rope to a buoy, life preserver, or other flotation device and throw it to the person. Use the rope to pull them out of the water.
  • In deep water, try to use a boat or other object to reach the victim. Many people who are drowning will panic and pull the rescuer under water.
  • Check for signs of circulation, such as normal breathing, coughing, or movement in response to stimulation.
  • Immediately contact the emergency medical system.
  • Start cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, if the person stops breathing. Use 15 chest compressions for every 2 mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths.
  • Stay with the victim and continue CPR until emergency help arrives, or until the person begins to breath independently.
  • If CPR is not needed, change any wet clothing, warm the person, and give first aid for any injuries.
  • What are the side effects of the treatments?

    If CPR is performed, there can be injury to the chest wall, muscle, and bone during chest compressions. The person may also choke on his or her vomit during CPR and rescue breathing. If the victim does start to vomit, turn the person on his or her side so that the vomit will not block the throat or airway.

    What happens after treatment for the injury?

    After the person has recovered fully from a near-drowning experience, there are usually no long-term problems. In rare situations, permanent brain damage may result if there is a lack of oxygen for a significant period of time.