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Survival Swimming

Survival swimming from a sinking car

The third cause of death through unintentional injuries in the world is drowning, according to the World Health Organization, WHO. This is around 7% of deaths caused by injuries. Individuals with increased access to water bodies, men, and children have the highest risk to drown. 

In Kenya alone, we have had our share of sorrow, with the recent incident at the Likoni Channel in Mombasa leaving a family grieving over the drowning of a mother and a daughter. It is quite an unfortunate incident, but in such instances, there are chances of survival. 

Much has been said about how to escape from a sinking car. But what happens once you and other passengers are out of the sinking vehicle? You will need to stay alive until help arrives. 

Here are some of the things to do once you have escaped from a sinking car:

  • Stay calm

You might have escaped from a sinking car, but being in a large and deep-water body could still be scary. Your first action is to remain calm. Panicking will fill you and any other passengers with fear, which translates to weakness and drowning. 

Stay as calm as possible while you look for ways to stay afloat. If there are other passengers with you, give them encouraging words to keep them calm, too, and increase their chances of survival. 

  • Swim to safety

If you are not too far from the shore, try to swim to safety rather than waiting for help. 

  • Use survival swimming strategies to stay afloat

If there is no land in sight, then you need to preserve your energy. So, do not try swimming to the shore. Instead, use survival swimming skills like survival floating on the back, survival floating of the front, treading water, and disrobing to stay afloat.   

  • What if there is a non-swimmer passenger? 

In the unfortunate event, you have another passenger with you, and they do not know how to swim, then you will need to help them swim ashore too. 

To keep both of you alive, you will have to use the chin grab strategy to help them swim ashore. Dive under the water, swim towards the passenger, turn towards their back, and grab their hips. Then, you will need to lift their chin using your least dominant hand. This strategy ensures that nothing is inhibiting your limbs from swimming. It also ensures that your dominant hand is free to help both of you swim to safety. 

The best swimming methods to use in such an event are the sidestroke and the elementary backstroke. 

But what would happen when you are not the victim but a bystander? Your quick response and survival swimming skills will help save a life or two. Below are some of the things to do if ever you are a bystander when a vehicle plunges into deep water:

Use throwing assists at the victims, e.g., a rope or piece of clothing, etc.

  1. You can try reaching out to the victim with your hand if they are not far from the shore. Another option would be extending a tree branch or a pole for them to grab at. However, you need to ensure that you are not too close to the edge to avoid the victim pulling you inside. 
  2. NOTE BETTER: Do not jump into the water if you are not sure you could save a life. Jumping into the water will give the victim hope that they have help. With this, they can cling onto you, making it impossible for both of you to swim. 

Survival swimming skills are necessary, not just for swimmers, but for everyone else. These skills can come in hand in the unfortunate event you are in a sinking car, or you are a bystander when a car plunges into the water. 

Lifesaving and survival swimming skills have not received the attention they deserve in Kenya, Lifesaving Africa Rescuers has and is at the forefront in training lifesaving courses, CPR, and first aid. We also focus on sensitizing the public on water safety standards, drowning prevention, and survival swimming in case you or someone falls into deep waters. Escaping from a sinking car and surviving in the water after the escape are two different scenarios. Both scenarios need much attention for us to ensure both the victim and the rescuer survive the ordeal. 

Some of the techniques we teach include treading water, survival dead man’s float on the back, survival dead man’s float on the front, mushroom float, starfish floating, and disrobing in the case where you have your clothes on making a floating device out of them.

Lifesaving Africa Rescuers remains committed to drowning prevention, sensitizing the public on water safety standards, and survival swimming in the country. We urge the government and the relevant authorities to come together and join us in this prevention measure before they happen…. #preventionispossible.

 

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