Falling into water
Fast action and careful consideration are needed when saving someone who has fallen in water. A drowning person may not wave their arms or call for help. Drowning usually takes place quickly and quietly, as a drowning person uses all their time and energy on trying to keep afloat and to breathe.
When you see that someone is drowning, call for help if this is possible.
- Search for any objects that could be of help. The best aids and tools are floating objects such as pieces of Styrofoam or empty plastic canisters. A plastic bucket can also act as a flotation device when turned upside down.
- Approach the person in distress carefully but swiftly. Keep the object or tool between yourself and the person in distress. If you cannot reach the person, throw the floating object towards the person.
- Please note that as an instinctive drowning response the person, who is drowning, may not be able to use their hands to grab onto the object. Try to calm the person in distress.
When the person, who is being rescued, gets a hold of the floating object and is able to keep afloat with its help, help him/her to shore, and turn him/her in a position where the water will slide out of his/her airway. Resuscitate if necessary. Ensure that the person involved in the accident has access to further treatment.
Do not panic. Do not allow the boat to float away. Try to get a hold of the oars.
You can try to turn an overturned row-boat right-side up by climbing onto the edge of the boat, grabbing the centre arc and leaning backward. Water will get into the boat, but getting into a boat that is the right way up and getting to shore will be simpler.
If the boat has not overturned, try to push yourself into the boat at its rear or by sliding yourself sideways up the side. If there is a large amount of water in the boat, it may flip upside down. In this case, move to the back of the boat, grab the edge of the boat and carefully slide back into the boat.
Wring out wet clothes to prevent hypothermia, in English a drop in body temperature.
If you are unable to turn the boat right side up and your mobile phone has remained dry and is functioning, call the emergency number 112, or when in sea areas the Maritime Search and Rescue service on +358 (0)294 1000. If you have a hearing or speech impairment and you are a pre-registered sender of emergency text messages, send a message to 112.
If you cannot call by phone, shout for help or use a light to attract attention if you have a torch or similar with you. Try to climb on top of the boat. You can stay warm for longer on top of the boat than in the water. Row the upside down boat towards the shore.
Never go out on the ice unless you are certain that it will hold. Word of mouth or a notion of what time of year the ice is strong enough to wonder out on are not necessarily accurate.
Keep an ice claw and a sharp pole with you whenever you wonder out on the ice. When necessary, use a life jacket or floatation suit.
If you fall in the ice, try to stay calm. Shout for help. Turn around and try to return in the direction from which you came. Break the weak ice in front of you as far as you can.
When you reach the point where the ice holds, raise yourself with swim kicks into a horizontal position and try to push your upper body onto the ice. After this, get a grip on the ice with your ice claw and pull yourself fully onto the ice. Roll, pull yourself along or crawl on your stomach or knees until you reach ice that will hold.
If you are unable to pull yourself up on the ice completely, remain as still as possible to prevent heat from leaving your body. Shout for help or use a blinking light to attract attention if you are carrying a torch or similar.
If you are able to get out of the water on your own, move towards the shore continuously and steadily. Find a warm place as quickly as possible. Take off your wet clothing only when you reach a warm place.
If you see someone fall into the ice, call the emergency number 112. If you have a hearing or speech impairment and you are a pre-registered sender of emergency text messages, send a message to 112. Shout out to the person who is in trouble that help is on its way.
Take something to help you in reaching the person in distress such as an oar, long branch, rope or jacket. Approach the person, who has fallen through the ice, from the direction with thicker, stronger ice. Crawl the last few metres on your stomach or knees.
Reach out with the object you have brought with you, towards the person in distress and begin to pull him/her out of the water onto the ice. Instruct him/her to kick at the water as if swimming so that he/she can get into a horizontal position. Make sure you do not fall in the water. When you are both on top of the ice, crawl on your stomachs or knees as far as possible from the open water. Carefully stand up only after you are sure the ice is strong enough.
The person who has been rescued from the freezing water must not be forced to walk. If the rescued person is unable to move, keep them flat on their back, prevent furthering freezing and wait for an ambulance.
If the rescued person is able to move indoors themselves, he/she should not be warmed up too quickly with rough rubbing. Do not lift the person's limbs, because freezing cold blood can travel to the heart and cause arrhythmia. The rescued person can be given warm drinks but no alcohol.
Hypothermia refers to reduced body temperature and changes in the body that happen as result of this. If you fall in cold water, your body temperature will immediately begin to drop. Body temperature drops especially quickly, if cold water gets into your stomach or lungs.
If you fall in cold water (4-6 degrees Celsius) you can lose your functional capacity in a few minutes and lose consciousness in 15 minutes. High age, poor general health, fatigue, dehydration, alcohol and illnesses can speed up the body's cooling.
A hypothermia patient must be transported to a health care facility avoiding unnecessary movement. The patient must be transported while lying down. If the hypothermia patient is not breathing, an effort must be made to resuscitate him/her. In no circumstances should a person suffering from hypothermia be given alcohol.