Lake Dangers: Tips to help someone who is drowning

LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. "In the movies, they say, 'oh, someone who's drowning is going to be yelling and waving their arms.' That might happen in the very beginning of the drowning period but quickly, when you can't breathe, you can't yell," said Mariah Swinker, R.N. at Lake Regional Hospital. "So, that person is going to be, most likely quiet and not able to yell for help."

That drowning period isn't very long.

"That period of struggle is usually less than a minute. So, at a minute, when they're truly actively drowning, they're probably going to go under or become unconscious," Swinker added.

So, what do you do if someone in your group while at the lake starts to drown, or you come across someone else who is drowning?

Nurses say to first call 911 to get the medics on their way, and then make sure the water is safe for you to go in to avoid two potential deaths.

"Next, if the person's conscious, you can try to throw a personal flotation device of some kind to them. If they are unconscious, if it's possible, get them out of the water, place them on their back on a hard, flat surface, and begin mouth-to-mouth and CPR," Swinker said.

If you're not certified to give CPR, and that last tip scares, you, you're not alone.

But, it's not too difficult to learn.

"We're going to use the flat part of our palm, on the lower half of the breastbone, lace your other hand, fingers go up toward the ceiling, you're going to want to make sure you're over the chest, and then compressing to two inches in depth on that chest," said Elizabeth Evans, R.N., Course Director with the American Heart Association.

You'll do that 30 times. Then you tilt the drown victims head up, pinch their nose, give two rescue breaths, and repeat that process four more times.

"It is a cycle. After five sets of 30 compressions and two breaths, hopefully I'll have another person who can relieve me and take over that compress and roll," Evans added.

Also, emergency medical personnel urge you to always wear a life jacket.