Saving someone who is drowning is more difficult and dangerous than many people think (heck, even realizing someone is drowning is hard — the signs don’t look like you think they would.) A person who’s drowning can be panicked and clutch, kick, and grab at you as you try to rescue them, dragging you both underwater. And simply carrying someone through the water to safety who isn’t fighting you is more physically arduous than you’d imagine. For this reason, the first recourse to saving a drowning victim should be to extend a rope, oar, or stick to them from the shore, or from a boat, rather than getting in the water yourself.
If the victim is too far from shore to be reached with an implement, you’ll need to jump in to get them. It’s best to disrobe before you jump in, especially if they’re in open water, and a ways away. Clothes and shoes will only weigh you down, and make a difficult task much more difficult. The weight of your soaked garments may end up sinking the both of you. Of course every second matters when you’re trying to save someone, so you have to be able to undress with lightning speed.
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