For the active outdoorsman, being capable of rescuing someone adrift in water is a critical skill, whether he or she is interested in leisurely boating, fishing or extreme water sports. This article will cover the basics of how to safely rescue someone from water.

The best technique for rescuing personnel from the water is to throw them a life preserver attached to a line. Another is to send a swimmer (rescuer) from the raft with a line attached to a flotation device that will support the rescuer’s weight. This device will help conserve a rescuer’s energy while recovering the survivor. The least acceptable technique is to send an attached swimmer without flotation devices to retrieve a survivor. In all cases, the rescuer wears a life preserver. A rescuer should not underestimate the strength of a panic-stricken person in the water. A careful approach can prevent injury to the rescuer.

When the rescuer approaches a survivor in trouble from behind, there is little danger the survivor will kick, scratch, or grab him. The rescuer swims to a point directly behind the survivor and grasps the life preserver’s backstrap. The rescuer uses the sidestroke to drag the survivor to the raft.

If you are in the water, make your way to a raft. If no rafts are available, try to find a large piece of floating debris to cling to. Relax; a person who knows how to relax in ocean water is in very little danger of drowning. The body’s natural buoyancy will keep at least the top of the head above water, but some movement is needed to keep the face above water.

Floating on your back takes the least energy. Lie on your back in the water, spread your arms and legs, and arch your back. By controlling your breathing in and out, your face will always be out of the water and you may even sleep in this position for short periods. Your head will be partially submerged, but your face will be above water. If you cannot float on your back or if the sea is too rough, float facedown in the water.

With these thoughts at hand, the mindful outdoorsman can feel at ease knowing they are a capable rescuer-at-sea.

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