Water Rescue Methods

Water rescue techniques are methods used to rescue someone who is in trouble in the water. You will see these methods throughout the BSA programs from Cub Scouts to Scouts BSA to Venturing.

It should be noted that Cub Scouts should be instructed that they should only attempt the Reach and Throw methods.  And with any age group, remind them that they must keep themselves safe first of all. It doesn’t do any good to try to help someone and get in trouble yourself.  If you are not sure you can rescue the victim without putting yourself in danger, then go for help instead.

Water Rescue Techniques in Order of Preference

They should be attempted in the order shown below.

Reach

Try to reach the victim with your arm or leg. If a pole or sturdy stick is available, try to use that to reach out to the victim and pull him to safety. Be careful not to hit the victim.

Throw

Throw something to the victim. Having a throw bag on hand for your adventure on the water is the best way to be prepared. But if you forgot to bring a throw bag, you could also use a rope or a rescue ring. It could also be something which floats which the victim can use to keep himself above water. Coolers float! Once again, be careful not to hurt the victim by hitting them with something hard.

Row

Get a boat out to the victim. You will need two people in the boat – one to handle the boat and one to help the victim. Don’t forget your PFDs.  Be careful when helping the victim that you don’t capsize the boat.

Go

Swim out to the victim to rescue him. This should only be attempted by someone who is trained in swimming and lifesaving. This can be dangerous for the rescuer if he does not know the correct techniques. Take something along which floats for the victim to hold on to. Avoid direct contact with the victim. This is the rescue method of last resort.

lifesaving merit badge

Lifesaving Merit Badge

Scouts learn how to help those in trouble in the water while working on the Lifesaving merit badge. They practice and demonstrate the skills for reaching, throwing , and go rescues. They also find out how to determine which rescue technique to use and how to keep themselves safe while giving assistance to another person.

BSA Aquatics Safety

Learn about BSA safety requirements for swimming, boating, scuba, snorkeling, tow-sports, and more, including Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat.


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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

      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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