Water safety tip – how to assist someone in water needing help

Stay in exact location and find an object across the water from where the person went under to assist firefighters.

Being situated in a place surrounded by water means that sometimes the Seattle Fire Department has to respond to emergencies in lakes, rivers and the sea. Water rescues can be tricky, especially when a person in need goes under water before help arrives. Beachgoers and boaters can assist firefighters greatly by paying attention and taking note in the misfortunate situation that a person goes under water and doesn’t resurface.

Here are a few ways to help from land during a water rescue emergency:

  1. Don’t wait – call 911 immediately to get resources on the way
  2. Stay in your exact location and find an object across the water from where the person went under (house, large tree, etc.), all witnesses should do this – it’s called triangulation
  3. Wave at firefighters or police officers when they arrive on scene to get their attention
  4. Provide any info about the person – hair color, what they were wearing, etc.
  5. Don’t interfere with the response, provide the information and then let first responders get to work

Here is how to help if on a boat:

  1. Don’t go in after the person
  2. Throw something like a rope, lifeline, or life jacket to the person in the water
  3. Find a fixed object on the horizon to use as a reference point in case the person goes under water so that you can tell firefighters the person’s last known location
  4. Keep track of your location while boating in case 911 is needed. Use a compass (found on many smart phones) and share latitude and longitude coordinates with the dispatcher which will help first responders find the location on the water

Being aware of the situation can make a big difference in helping someone in need. Please enjoy the water safely and always wear a life jacket when out on the water this summer.