Do you know how to save someone from drowning? It’s not as simple as grabbing them out of the water. Drowning is much more of a danger than most of us realize, regardless of age.

Learn How to Save Someone From Drowning in Just 60 Seconds

First things first: let’s have a quick primer on water safety. Here’s Life Saver Pool Fence’s President, Eric Lupton, to teach you how to save someone from drowning in only 60 seconds:

Diving in Deeper

That video is an excellent introduction, but now let’s dive in a bit deeper. Below are some helpful tips about what to do if you see someone drowning. Once you recognize that a swimmer is having trouble, it’s time to act.

Always Call for Help

Before anything else, loudly and clearly call for help. Even if you seem to be alone, someone may hear your cries. That person can either call 911 or rush directly to your aid. As you may have guessed, it’s much easier to save someone from drowning when you have assistance.

Look for a Floatation Device

Don’t simply jump into the water. First, check the surrounding area for a flotation device. We’ve written about how pool toys, water noodles and floaties are not reliable ways to stay afloat in the water… but desperate times often call for desperate measures. In a dangerous situation, these may be your only option.

Buoyancy Vests and Life Jackets: Know the Difference

Quickly but Carefully Swim to the Victim

Once you’ve secured a floatation device it is time to approach the victim. As you swim, be sure to keep a close eye on the victim. Don’t just swim headlong into danger. Try not to let your head dip under the water much. You’ll always want to be aware of the drowning person’s status and placement in the water.

Approach From Behind

Now, this tip is trickier than it may seem. A drowning person will probably be in a state of panic. Often, they will be flailing their arms or trying to grab on to something. Many a would-be savior has been accidentally drowned by the very person they were attempting to rescue.


For this reason, it is generally smarter to approach the struggling victim from behind. They may not notice you at first. As you reach the back of the swimmer, slide your arms under theirs in a scooping motion. This will lock their arms in yours and allow you to move them to safety. If you were able to locate a floatation device, you can slide this between your bodies for added buoyancy. Now it is time to “drag” them to safety. As you swim for shore, make sure to keep the victim’s mouth and nose out of the water. The easiest way to accomplish this is to make sure to tilt his or her head back.

Practice CPR or Call for Assistance

Now that your victim is back on dry land, your work still isn’t complete. The first order of business is to make sure that he or she is responsive. Ask the victim “Are you okay?” to ensure that he or she is not in a state of shock. If they are conscious, you can ask them their name and soothe their nerves.

If they are not responsive, this is where CPR training can come in handy. Every adult should consider becoming certified in CPR. It really can be the difference between life and death. Of course, if you aren’t trained, you should call for assistance. Attempting improper CPR can do more harm than good. 

Screen Shot 2023 06 11 at 11.19.17 AM

At this point, you’ve done all you can. Keep the victim calm and remain with them until help arrives. Congratulations. Now you know the important steps for how to save someone from drowning.