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What to Do if You Witness a Drowning Accident in Florida


A person holding out a life preserver to someone who is at risk of drowning.

More than 10 Americans drown each day, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tragically, it is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4.

With so many swimming opportunities in Florida, drowning deaths are tragically common. Even accomplished swimmers can be in danger of drowning in certain water conditions.

Although these accidents disproportionately affect children, drowning accidents can happen to people of all ages. In these instances, medical first responders must be prepared to take action.

While professional medical responders are necessary, ordinary citizens should also know what to do if they witness a drowning accident in Florida. Taking the right steps can mean the difference between life and death when someone is struggling to swim.

Appropriate Steps When Someone Is in Danger

When a person appears to be drowning, it is vital to act as quickly as possible. Doing so can effectively prevent a tragic outcome.

Recognizing the signs of drowning and knowing how to respond can save someone’s life. Some of the critical steps to follow when someone seems to be in danger of drowning are:

Assess the Situation

Before you intervene in a dangerous situation, ensure your own safety. Do not jump into the water if you are not a proficient swimmer.

Trying to help when you are not equipped may put you and the victim at greater risk of injury or death. Putting yourself at needless risk does not make the potential victim safer.
Assess the surroundings and situation. Try to determine which potential hazards or dangers may have caused the person to be in danger in the water. This may include:

  • Unsafe water levels
  • Swelling tides
  • Strong currents
  • Objects beneath the water’s surface
  • Once you understand the circumstances, look around to find professional help. If a lifeguard or emergency services professional is on duty, alert them to the drowning accident.

Know the Signs of Drowning Accidents

Drowning can be a quiet event, despite its typical portrayal in the movies. Those in danger of drowning may be unable to shout for help or wave their arms frantically.

The following signs may signify the victim is drowning:

  • Absence of breath
  • Difficulty breathing regularly
  • Tilted back head with open mouth
  • Closed or glassy eyes
  • Inability to move or swim properly
  • Limp body posture

If any of these physical signs are present, take action. Those exhibiting these symptoms may need immediate medical attention.

Call for Help

It is crucial to shout for assistance from any bystanders. This is especially true if you are not capable of helping yourself.

Yell for help from someone who is a competent swimmer or has water rescue training. If a professional lifeguard is around, tell them about the situation to expedite the rescue process.

Reach or Throw — Do Not Go

Be cautious if you are not a confident swimmer and no one is available to help. It is best to use a reaching or throwing aid. Common examples are:

  • A long pole
  • A nearby buoyant object
  • A strong rope or line

Maintain a safe distance from the person in danger. Make sure to maintain your own balance and stability.

Contact Emergency Services

Even if you are able to retrieve the victim, and they seem to be recovering, contact emergency services. Ensuring medical responders are on the scene will encourage the best possible outcome.

A trained professional can enact cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the person is unresponsive or not breathing. This important technique has saved many people from drowning.

Time is of the essence during a potential drowning accident. For that reason, you should take action as soon as possible.

Speak with a Skilled Drowning Accident Attorney

If you or someone you love has been involved in a near-drowning accident because of another person’s negligence, do not wait. You may be entitled to recover significant financial compensation through a civil legal claim.

With the help of a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer, you can determine the total value of your case. Contact the compassionate legal team at Schrier Law Group to schedule a consultation about your case.

If one of these tragic accidents has resulted in the loss of a loved one, you may be able to file a successful wrongful death claim. Schrier Law Group’s team will fight diligently to help you recover following a water-related accident.