Last updated: 05/03/2023

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What to do in case of drowning

Call the emergency services

In cases of drowning, telephone:

  • 18 or 112
  • The Emergency Department at Princess Grace Hospital on

Give precise information

You should provide the emergency services with the following information:

  • The precise reason for your call
  • The telephone number that you are calling from
  • Your location, including key information such as the name of the beach, the address, nearby buildings
  • Whether the victim is conscious
  • Whether the victim is breathing

Perform first aid

Once the victim is out of the water, you should:

  • Monitor the victim until the emergency services arrive
  • Cover the victim
  • Place the victim on their side in the recovery position if they are not able to talk

Precautions to prevent drowning

By taking a few simple precautions, you can prevent drowning:

  • Be aware of your physical fitness and swimming ability
  • Adopt appropriate behaviour when supervising your children
  • Let your family know if you are going swimming
  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Enter the water gradually
  • Cool off in the water every 15 minutes
  • Do not expose yourself to the sun for long periods of time
  • Drink water regularly
  • Choose supervised swimming areas, take advice from qualified professionals and pay attention to the local weather forecast
  • Learn how to swim when caught by a wave or a current
  • Watch out for sudden changes in the environment
  • Beware of unstable or impassable shorelines
  • In the event of the unexpected, do not fight against currents or waves as this will tire you out

Precautions for children

Children can drown silently in less than three minutes in twenty centimetres of water. Teach children to swim from the age of four, and make them aware of the dangers of unsupervised swimming.

Where one or more children are swimming, you should:

  • Designate one adult to be responsible for supervision, and never let your child leave your sight
  • Keep a pole, life-ring, and a telephone to contact the emergency services if required, next to the pool
  • After swimming, remember to remove from the water all toys that your child might try to reach, and put all safety equipment back in the right place
  • Secure your pool by fitting it out with standard equipment: a safety fence (NF P90-306), pool alarm (NF P90-307), cover (NF P90-308) or shelter (NF P90-309)

The best prevention is active and constant adult supervision. Children should use effective equipment which carries a CE marking, such as armbands, swimsuit with buoyancy aids, or a rubber ring adapted to their size. Do not overestimate their swimming ability and beware of unreliable rubber rings and floatation aids which do not protect children from drowning.

See also

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