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If you find yourself in trouble in water, try to conserve energy

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

I am passing along some critical information that just might help someone avoid adding to the growing list of local drowning accidents. I gathered this information over 20 years ago while serving as the Safety Officer for the N.H. Wing of The Civil Air Patrol. At that time, I received several monthly national safety type information packages and presented some excerpts, from one of them, at one of our monthly meetings. Unfortunately, I no longer have the original documents so I will just summarize the information, as I remember it, here.
Basically, unless a medical problem, or an incapacitating injury leads to the drowning, physical exhaustion ALWAYS precedes it. This is accelerated by hypothermia, fear, panic and the struggle to stay afloat. Now here is the good part to practice and remember if needed. You must conserve as much energy as possible to extend the time for your rescue. One way to do this is to get comfortable doing what we used to call the "dead man's float". I know that doesn't sound too good, but it is merely just relaxing and hanging suspended in the water with even your face under water. Raise your head and take a deep breath when needed and you will be surprised how long that you can do this. It will give you some time for help to arrive or if you are on your own, time to think of the best escape plan. If you must swim for shore, stop and rest this way before it is too late, then continue swimming. If you are in any kind of a current, go with it and angle toward land. My father made me practice this and obviously the best time to learn it is before you actually need it. Try it, it just might save the old bacon some day.
Salt water is a whole 'nother ballgame and I don't know enough about it . My only advice is that unless you are a very strong swimmer and are aware of the effect of cold water on your body, be like me and keep your feet planted on the bottom while playing in the surf. (Usually for a very short time.) Stay safe and enjoy our lakes and streams.
Donald Lockwood