Water Rescue Methods

Since I am focusing on an aquatics theme this month, I thought I’d post about water rescue methods. These 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 Boy Scouts 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.

They should be attempted in the order given:

  • 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. This could be 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 (with support) – 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.

3 Responses to Water Rescue Methods

  1. Damian Morell January 24, 2012 at 5:50 PM #

    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

    • Scouter Mom January 25, 2012 at 9:42 AM #

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

  2. pshkmp June 29, 2012 at 7:21 PM #


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