If you see someone in trouble ...

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 December, 2011, 12:00am


You're out on your weekly jog with friends. It's one of your favourite activities. The beautiful scenery coupled with the social atmosphere provides an enjoyable getaway from the bustling city.

You've never been one for artificial things. But Inspiration Lake Recreation Centre, on Lantau Island, is a wonderful sight, even if the 12-hectare lake is man-made.

You often use the jogging trail around the lake and have experienced it all before. But nothing has prepared you for the cry of 'Help! Help!' A woman is drowning in the lake, and needs help - quickly.

What to do

Drowning can happen in seconds. Your window of opportunity to save her shrinks with each moment that passes. You have to act very fast. Call 999 and alert others that someone is drowning. The more people that can assist the rescue, the better. There's always the possibility that a lifeguard is nearby. As you wait for help to arrive, you can try to save the victim, even without entering the water.

Assess the environment. Saving the victim is your priority. The natural reaction would be to jump in to the lake and pull the person out. But this should only be your last resort. Unless you are a strong swimmer with some life-saving experience, you should avoid taking the plunge.

If the victim is close to the edge of the lake, reach out and try to pull her in. But be careful; she might pull you into the water. If you're on a river or at the beach be careful of the tides and currents. When reaching out, lie on your stomach so you won't be pulled in.

If the victim is too far out, find something that will float and toss it to them. Many lakes or bodies of water are equipped with life-saving rings which can be found along the pier. This will help the victim remain afloat while help arrives. You can also use a rope to toss to the person and pull them in, or a rod, like a pool scoop or fishing rod.

Only as a last resort should you jump into the water. Do not dive head-first into the water as you do not know what is underneath and you could be badly hurt. Never be too confident about your swimming ability. People who are scared will often grab on to something, and they may pull you under. You may not be ready to tackle such a tough task, especially if it means pulling another person out of the water. If you're not sure, wait for help.

Once the victim is out of the water, perform first aid if necessary. If she is not breathing, help her to breathe. Once she is breathing, put her in the recovery position.

If possible, put a blanket or something else on her to keep her warm. Stay with her until the ambulance or police or other official help arrives.

Steps to help rescue a person in difficulty

1 Alert others and call 999.

2 Don't jump in.

3 Lie down and reach out a hand.

4 Toss a floating device.

5 Toss a rope or rigid object.

6 Judge your own swimming ability before jumping in (the last resort).

7 Apply first aid treatment.

8 Stay until official help arrives.