Drowning is death by suffocation from being submerged in water.

Drowning usually occurs quickly and silently. Early rescue and resuscitation by trained first responders or first aiders at the scene offer the victim the best change of survival.


  • Call 000 immediately. Never assume that the person cannot be saved
  • Follow the Emergency Action Plan (D.R.S.A.B.C.D.). Pull the casualty from the water ONLY if it is safe
  • If the casualty is unconscious or not breathing normally, start CPR immediately
  • Treat other injuries if the casualty is breathing adequately
  • If the water was cold, their body will need to be warmed up. Cover with warm dry clothing or a blanket
  • Vomiting and regurgitation often occur during the resuscitation of a drowned victim. If the victim has been rolled to the side to clear the airway, then reassess their condition
  • If breathing commences, the victim can be left on the side with appropriate head tilt
  • If not breathing normally, the victim should be promptly rolled onto the back and resuscitation recommenced

All near-drowning victims must go to the hospital, even if they have started breathing and delayed, secondary drowning can occur several hours after the initial incident.