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Water Rescue Methods

Water rescue techniques are essential skills that can save lives. As aquatic activities become increasingly popular, it is important for people to understand how to rescue someone who is in trouble in the water. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) recognizes this need and has incorporated water rescue techniques into its programs for various age groups, from Cub Scouts to Scouts BSA to Venturing.

The BSA emphasizes four main water rescue techniques: Reach, Throw, Row, and Go. Each of these methods has its own unique advantages and can be used depending on the situation.

The Reach method involves using an object such as a pole, branch, or even a paddle to reach out to the victim and pull them to safety. The Throw method involves throwing a buoyant object, such as a life ring or floating device, to the victim, allowing them to hold onto it while being pulled to safety. The Row method involves using a boat to rescue the victim, and the Go method involves swimming out to the victim and bringing them back to safety.

It is important to note that Cub Scouts should only attempt the Reach and Throw methods. This is because swimming ability and strength may not be fully developed at this age, and attempting more advanced rescue techniques could put them in danger. For older age groups, the Row and Go methods can also be used, but it is crucial to ensure that the rescuer is confident in their swimming ability and that they do not put themselves in danger while attempting to rescue the victim.

In any rescue situation, it is essential to prioritize personal safety. If the rescuer is not confident in their ability to rescue the victim without putting themselves in danger, they should seek help from a more experienced swimmer or a lifeguard. It is important to remember that attempting to rescue someone while putting oneself in danger is not only ineffective but could also result in multiple casualties.

Water rescue techniques are crucial skills that can save lives in emergency situations. The BSA recognizes this need and incorporates these techniques into its programs for various age groups. It is essential to prioritize personal safety and to only attempt techniques that are appropriate for one’s age and swimming ability. With proper training and awareness, we can all be better prepared to handle water rescue situations and help prevent tragedy.

See more details, a printable copy, and a video summary below.

Water Rescue Techniques in Order of Preference

They should be attempted in the order shown below.

Reach

The Reach technique involves trying to reach the victim with your arm or leg. If you are unable to reach them, try using a pole or sturdy stick to pull them to safety. The rescuer must be careful not to hit the victim with the object used to reach them.

Throw

The Throw technique involves throwing something to the victim that will help them stay afloat while waiting to be rescued. This could be a throw bag or a rescue ring, both of which are commonly used by experienced rescuers. If these items are not available, you can throw anything that floats, such as a cooler or a life jacket. It’s crucial to avoid throwing anything that could harm the victim, such as heavy objects or sharp-edged items.

Row

The Row technique involves getting a boat out to the victim. The boat should be manned by two people, one to handle the boat and the other to help the victim. It’s important to wear Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) while performing this rescue technique. The rescuer must be careful not to capsize the boat while helping the victim.

Go

The Go technique involves swimming out to the victim to rescue them. This technique is the last resort and should only be attempted by trained individuals who have strong swimming and lifesaving skills. It’s essential to take something that floats, such as a buoyant object or a life jacket, for the victim to hold onto while being rescued. The rescuer should avoid direct contact with the victim and try to swim around them, guiding them to the shore.

Related Resources for Water Rescue Methods

lifesaving merit badge

Lifesaving Merit Badge

The Lifesaving merit badge is a badge offered by the Boy Scouts of America that focuses on teaching scouts various lifesaving techniques, including water rescue techniques. The badge provides scouts with essential knowledge and skills to identify and respond to different water rescue situations, including using Reach, Throw, Row, and Go techniques.

Safe Swim Defense

Safe Swim Defense

The BSA Safe Swim Defense program is a set of guidelines and procedures that aim to ensure the safety of all individuals participating in swimming activities, including water rescue techniques. The program provides essential information and recommendations for swimmers, leaders, and parents to prevent accidents and respond to emergencies, including the use of Reach, Throw, Row, and Go techniques.

Safety Afloat

The BSA Safety Afloat program is a set of guidelines and procedures that aim to ensure the safety of all individuals participating in water-based activities, including the use of water rescue techniques. The program provides essential information and recommendations for leaders, parents, and participants to prevent accidents and respond to emergencies safely.

The Safety Afloat program requires that all individuals participating in water-based activities must be supervised by a responsible adult who is trained in Safety Afloat guidelines. The program also recommends that all individuals should be able to swim 100 yards continuously and should have a basic understanding of water rescue techniques, including Reach, Throw, Row, and Go techniques.

Comments

4 responses to “Water Rescue Methods”

  1. Damian Morell Avatar
    Damian Morell

    Please advise if there is a water rescue training online.I am opening a Kayak & Snorkeling business and the insurance co. requires that I take trainning on the subject although all participants are required to use a PFD.Please advise

    1. Scouter Mom Avatar
      Scouter Mom

      BSA offers Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat online, as well as a number of other safety classes. They are available at https://myscouting.scouting.org. But I don’t recall that there any specific water rescue training courses there.

  2. pshkmp Avatar
    pshkmp

    THINK
    REACH
    THROW
    ROW
    GO WITH SUPPORT AS A LAST RESORT BE A THINKING SCOUT, NOT A HERO!

  3. Olaf Avatar
    Olaf

    Shout
    Reach etc.

    The swimmer may be able to ‘self rescue’ with clear direction and instructions, this is the best method as it prevents any one else coming to risk.

    I’d suggest the British Canoeing White-water safety and Rescue courses for those in the UK, highly recommended

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