If you're trying to assist someone who's drowning, the most important step is not to jeopardize your own safety. If you become injured or pulled underwater, then both your lives will be in danger. Keep in mind that a person who's struggling in the water may grab for anything to keep afloat, including your head. So try to take a stick, shirt, or other object that they can hang onto, while you tow them in. If no such object is available, offer an outstretched hand. Should a boat be nearby, and the person's still able to tread water, try maneuvering the boat over, and holding out an oar for the victim to grasp. Persons with broken bones should be handled as gently as possible. Before moving the victim out of the water, try to place the person on a board, so the head is kept in line with the neck. After rescue, keep the person warm, and be alert for symptoms of shock, such as anxiety; chest pain; cold, sweaty skin; bluish lips and fingernails; dizziness; nausea or vomiting; shallow breathing; and extreme thirst. Victims who aren't breathing should be given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, followed by chest compressions, if necessary.
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