Especially in the summer, people are drawn to the lakes and swimming accidents are more common. DLRG Unterallgäu discovers how to respond correctly in an emergency.
A person swims in water, suddenly sinks and does not reappear.
It’s only June Lower Allgau had a tragic accident, from which a 22-year-old young man died. It happens again and again that emergencies happen while swimming. We asked Jürgen Bonnemann how best to deal with such situations, whether as a victim in the water or as a witness on land. He is the spokesperson and Head of Water Rescue Operations for the German Life Saving Society (DLRG) in Memmingen/Unterallgäu.
Safe swimming. what to do if you have a cramp
“For cramping in the water, it always helps to overstretch the muscle,” says Boneman. The easiest way is to lie on your back and then stretch the muscle. “If you have a cramp in the bottom of your foot or the bottom of your foot, it helps to flex your toes. If you have a cramp in the front of your hamstring, you need to curl your heels into your butt,” she explains.
Safe bathing. swimmers must follow these rules
According to the head of the water rescue service, if everyone followed them, accidents would be significantly less. One of them is the following: “If I don’t feel well, I don’t go swimming.” According to Bonnemann, one of the biggest mistakes a swimmer can make is overestimating his own strength. He sees time and time again in his security service that people have to swim across the entire lake. “My hair stands on end,” he says. “If something happens in the middle, like if I lose consciousness and fall under, it becomes life-threatening after five minutes at the latest.”
So he advises non-swimmers or inexperienced swimmers to stay in the coastal area. He also advises elderly people to take a swim to the lake. And if you’re drunk, it’s best not to enter the water at all, according to the operations manager.
These are the ten rules of DRLG bathing.
- “Go swimming only if you feel comfortable. Cool off and take a shower before entering the water.”
- “Never enter the water on a full or completely empty stomach.”
- “If you are not a swimmer, enter the water only up to your stomach.”
- “Never call for help unless you are really in danger, but help others when they need help.”
- “Do not overestimate yourself and your strength.”
- “Don’t swim where ships and boats sail.”
- “Bathing during a thunderstorm is life-threatening, leave the water immediately and seek shelter.”
- “Keep the water and surroundings clean, throw the garbage in the trash can.”
- “Inflatable flotation devices do not keep you safe in the water.”
- “Jump into the water only if it’s clear and deep enough.”
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How should I react if I see a swimmer in distress?
“The first thing to do is call and alert the emergency services,” says Boneman. “It is a priority issue.” The best way to help rescuers from the Water Rescue Service or DLRG is to mark and describe the accident location as accurately as possible. For example: “There is a house on the opposite shore, he sank on the line of two shores” or “He wanted to swim from one shore to the other.” Bonnemann informs: “Any description that makes it easier to find them helps.”
After the emergency call. Get into the water and try to save yourself?
According to Bonnemann, anyone who decides to initiate a self-rescue attempt in an emergency situation must consider one essential question: “Is your head still above water or not?”
He says. “If he’s still afloat, you shouldn’t swim directly to him.” Panic sufferers would reach for anything that would support them. “If I’m not a very confident swimmer myself, they’ll both sink.”
So what is the best way to do this? “Get a towel, a bathing suit or, at best, a noodle from the pool and thereby shorten the human distance, there are no limits to the imagination,” notes the Allgäu lifeguard. “Then drop the tip to the swimmer so they can grab onto it and relax. If he passes out later, I can always catch him.”
Rescue someone underwater? Self defense comes first
What should you do when you see someone just drowning? This situation is difficult for lay people, because visibility without diving goggles is zero to two meters. “The other problem is that our Allgau lakes become ice as soon as they get deeper. If I’m not an experienced swimmer, it immediately takes my breath away,” says Boneman. Here he says: “Those who dare, good, but otherwise self-defense comes first.”
Inflatables help rescue
Not only children are affected. “Anything that’s inflatable helps.” This can also be life jackets, water wings, rubber toys or air mattresses for adults. A DLRG representative knows that if they’re made of a stronger material, kids can’t easily break them. Vests, in particular, help keep your head under water in a crisis, he explains. They can often be bought both in supermarkets and sports stores.
Nevertheless. “Inflatable flotation devices do not provide any safety in the water. They can help save only in emergency situations.” Boneman cites the lifebuoy as an example. “It’s a relatively new thing now. It’s a special floating buoy with a lifebuoy that you can attach with a belt and that inflates itself with a trigger.”
“These buoys are not actively saving,” says Boneman. “But if I get sick and a dangerous situation arises, at least I can hold it until help arrives.” These buoys can be found on the Internet under the name “Restube”.
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