Water rescue

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Water rescue involves saving someone who is having difficulty in water. This could be a person who is unable to swim, someone who is injured or having medical difficulties in water, or someone who is unconscious.

How to rescue someone in water

Never try to swim out to the person when you could rescue them in a safer way. You do not want to get yourself in an unsafe position where the drowning person drowns you. This can easily happen if you get near to the person. They will cling onto you and climb on you in an attempt to get out the water. You will see the below list always involves having an object between you and them.


  • If they are near enough, reach out to them with something such as a pole, stave, or paddle of a canoe.
  • Let them grab on and pull them to shore or to your boat.


Throw a life ring or lifeline to them: a long rope that is coiled and can be thrown some distance.


  • Row out to them with a boat.
  • Make sure to have someone keep a constant eye on the person as you could easily lose sight of them. They should keep their arm out pointing at the person non-stop.
  • When you reach the person, try to use the REACH or THROW method to bring them to the stern (back) of the boat where it is more stable.
  • Let them climb into the boat, or if they are too weak, grab them and pull them in.
  • If you are unable to pull them into the boat, hold onto them (ensure their head is out the water) and tow them back to shore.

GO and TOW

  • Only as a last resort would you swim out to the person, and only if you are a strong swimmer.
  • Even with this method, you should not be too near the person. Take a towel, rope or something that floats and have them grab onto this. Then tow them back to shore.
  • If you are not a confident swimmer, go get help while someone constantly monitors where the person is in the water.

The order to remember is: REACH - THROW - ROW - GO and TOW

Video examples

See also