Recognize someone who is drowning. Drowning can occur very quickly, in as little as 10 seconds, and is often silent. Drowning victims are unable to support themselves at the surface, as such they are very dangerous to the rescuer as they can grab on in order to get their head above the water.


  • Cannot call for help. When they do surface, they gasp for breath to stay alive.
  • Distress is obvious on their face when above the water (fearful expression and large eyes).
  • Body in the vertical position with the head back.
  • Hands may be 'splashing' at the surface.
  • May not be visible (fully submerged).
  • May be conscious or unresponsive.


CALL for help

  • Call a lifeguard
  • Call 9-1-1


Rescues involving others can be physically and emotionally demanding for both the rescuer and victim. Your safety is your primary and ongoing priority in a rescue.


From a dry, safe position, talk to the victim and encourage him or her to safety. Tell the victim to "keep your head up, kick your feet, and grab the side." Eye contact and positive encouragement can have immediate results on a victim at close range, without putting you in any danger.


From a dry, safe position, throw a buoyant assist to the victim, and talk them back to safety. Remember that wind and waves make it harder to throw with accuracy,


From a dry, safe position, reach with an assist to the victim and pull him or her to safety. Keep your centre of gravity low and anchor yourself by holding onto a solid object such as a tree root, ladder, or dock. This will help you from being pulled into the water.