National Drowning Prevention Alliance
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        “Community Lifesaver” Award 2016 & 2018

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New Water Safety Illustrations

Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director of Public Relations, 708-903-0166
Bob Pratt, Executive Director of Education, 517-643-2553

New water safety illustrations to save lives

On the Great Lakes through drowning prevention

Great Lakes, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) debuts two of its new water safety illustrations: 1) The Signs of Drowning and 2) Flip, Float, and Follow.

The GLSRP wants everyone to know the Signs of Drowning because every second counts:

  • A swimmer in distress that starts displaying the Signs of Drowning may reach final submersion within 15 to 45 seconds.
  • At two minutes of submersion, a drowning victim has a 92% survival rate if recovered and CPR and artificial respiration is performed properly.
  • At ten minutes of submersion, a drowning victim has a 14% survival rate if recovered and CPR and artificial respiration is performed properly. (These survivors will usually have moderate to severe brain injury.)
  • Consider if you are in the water at the beach and witness a drowning submersion – how long would it take you to get out of the water, get to a phone, call 911, identify your location, 911 dispatch first responders to your location, and recover the victim? Would it already be past the ten minute mark?  Would it already be a recovery mission?
  • Note: survival rates may vary due to age, health, water temperature, and other varying factors.

001-Signs of Drowning Pic

The Signs of Drowning, also known as the Instinctive Drowning Response by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. Unfortunately Hollywood has taught us what drowning doesn’t look like.  With actual drowning there is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind.

The Signs of Drowning:

  • Facing shore
  • Mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back
  • Look of panic or eyes glassy or closed
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Vertical in water. Not using legs for forward swimming movement.
  • Ladder climbing motion, rarely out of the water.
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway

Know the Signs of Drowning for two reasons:

  1. To identify someone who is drowning
  2. In case you find yourself drowning/doing the signs of drowning, STOP IT and FLOAT.

The “Flip, Float, and Follow” Rip Current Survival Strategy created by the Michigan Sea Grant could actually work in any body of water where somebody is in over  their head. [Similar to the fire safety technique, “Stop, Drop, and Roll” if you ever catch on fire.]
002-Flip Float and Follow Pic

How to use the “Flip, Float, Follow” Rip Current Survival Strategy – If you are ever caught in water over your head or a Dangerous Current:

1. FLIP:
Flip over onto your back and float.

A. Float to keep your head above water.
B. Float to calm yourself down from the panic and fear of drowning.
C. Float to conserve your energy.

Follow the safest course to safety: Never swim against a current. If you are in a Dangerous Current, assess which way it is pulling you. Then swim perpendicular to the currents flow until you are out of it and then swim toward shore. If you are too tired to swim to shore, continue to float and signal someone on shore for help. Also, the waves may eventually bring you back to shore.

–As long as you are floating, you are alive*.
–As long as you are struggling or fighting the current, you are drowning – Conserve your energy and do not do the Signs of Drowning.
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GLSRP Drowning Statistics


The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP) is about saving lives.  It is a nonprofit corporation that is a Chapter of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) that tracks drowning statistics and teaches “Water Safety Surf Rescue” classes, and leads the “Third Coast Ocean Force” rip current awareness campaign on the Great Lakes.  Become a member of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

 The GLSRP presented at the NDPA’s 12th Annual Symposium, March 14, 2013, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  It presented at the 2nd International Rip Current Symposium Nov. 1st, 2012 in Sydney, Australia; the 2012 winner of the “Outstanding Service to the Great Lakes Community” award presented by the Dairyland Surf Classic; the 2011 “Lifesaver of the Year” award winner; and presented at the NDPA’s 11th Annual Symposium in San Diego, March 9, 2012.


 BASIC WATER SAFETY TIPS – What everyone should know before they put their toes on the beach: