Near drowning is defined as suffocation (severe oxygen deprivation) from being submerged in water that does not result in death. When death occurs, the incident is called drowning. The following are symptoms of near drowning:
Alert, but anxious to drowsy
Person is not breathing or is gasping for breath, coughing, or wheezing
Bluish color to the lips and ears (cyanosis)
First Aid for Near Drowning
The following steps should be followed in the case of a near drowning:
Rescue breathing as outlined in Chapter 2 must be started at once if the person is unconscious, even while the person is still in the water, if possible.
If you can, ask someone else to call 911 while you begin rescue breathing.
Get the person safely moved to land, lay him on his back, and continue rescue breathing, beginning CPR if necessary.
Water that may gush from their mouth comes from the stomach, not the lungs, and requires that you turn the person using a log roll so that the water can drain. Vomiting can also occur.
Many people who experience near drowning have happy outcomes. It's possible to survive a forty-minute submersion with the proper rescue and care, and many people who receive CPR and intensive care recover fully.
Providing CPR and or rescue breathing immediately will increase the chance of survival and lessen the chance and extent of any brain damage, even if you believe the person was under water for a very long time. Try to stabilize and immobilize the neck to avoid adding to any spinal injury. If the person is conscious, remove any wet clothing, then wrap him in warm blankets and get him to a hospital, regardless of how quickly you revive him or how well he may feel.
The duration of submersion under water, water temperature (cold-water accidents may have a better out-come), the person's age (children have better outcomes than adults), and how soon resuscitation begins are factors that have the most influence on a person's survival without permanent brain and lung damage. A near drowning while drinking alcohol increases a person's chances of dying or developing brain or lung damage.