Although lifeguards are present at all public pools and official public beaches, it is still a good idea to have lifesaving skills yourself. Basic lifesaving skills are not difficult to learn and, as the name indicates, they can save a life. The best protection for yourself and those around you is to be a good swimmer and to know your limits when it comes to where you swim.
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Throw, Row, Go
One of the basic rules of lifesaving is to keep yourself safe when trying to rescue someone else. Many people panic when in a water emergency, and if you make yourself vulnerable to them you run the risk of them hurting you or trying to crawl on top of you. The first rule of lifesaving is "throw, row go." This means that, when trying to help someone, you throw him a line or a flotation device as a first option. If this is not possible, go to the swimmer in a boat. Only as a last resort should you swim to someone in distress and try to rescue him in the water. If you are forced to do this, try to keep a distance between the two of you by throwing the swimmer the end of a towel or pair of trousers. Once he has hold of the item, you may be more able to calm him down.
Cross Chest Hold
If you must rescue someone while in the water with them, you need to keep him calm. Talk to him and reassure him, and if possible get him to go limp and allow you to grab hold of him. The proper way to rescue someone is to get behind the person, holding him with your right arm over his right shoulder and across the chest, with your right hand gripping the front of his left armpit. You are then able to propel yourself by doing a sidestroke with your left arm, towing the other person along with your body more or less underneath theirs.
The best protection is, of course, to stay out of trouble in the first place. If you are swimming with a group, remain aware of the swimming skills of everyone around you. If someone is clearly going beyond their depth level, intervene before an emergency arises. Also, keep an eye out for potentially dangerous activity such as jumping into water where there may be rocks, people pushing each other or submerging each other in the water, or swimming combined with alcohol and drug use. Any of these situations, and particularly these situations combined, can easily lead to tragedy.
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