The Arnolds Park Okoboji Search and Rescue Team takes us through plans and supplies everyone should have with them before heading out on the water this summer.
Over a million drownings happen around the world every year. While some of those happen in sudden flash flooding situations, experts will tell you many others are preventable. But to prevent a crisis like that experts we spoke to with the Arnolds Park Okoboji Search and Rescue Team say you need to have a plan and know how to execute it.
Thousands of people flock to Lake Okoboji every year to get out and enjoy the water. But the Arnolds Park Lake Okoboji Underwater Search and Rescue Team will tell you not a summer goes by without some sort of mishap on the water. They say things can go wrong when you're out on the water when you least expect it and things can go wrong in a big hurry.
The team says they see accidents every single year. They say they are sent on at least two calls for missing people every summer. Some of them do have a happy ending, but others do not. Back in June of 2010 a man jumped from his boat into the lake to get something that had blown off his boat and he never came back up.
Hoping to prevent further tragedies the team took us out on the boat to go through some life saving steps. We started by talking about what to do if someone goes overboard and does not come back to the surface. Experts say if they aren't hurt, toss them something and pull them back in. That's why you should have something like a safety rope on your boat.
If they are hurt call for help on your cell phone or radio but don't try to drag them back into the boat. The team says you can do a lot more harm by trying to drag them back in. Instead they say give them something to float on, like a life jacket, until help arrives.
If the nightmare situation happens, and someone goes in and does not come to the surface here's what to keep in mind. Experts say time is your enemy if you go under the water and you have a problem. The team says the average person can't hold their breathe for more than a minute, and once they take a gulp of water in, they will start to sink, making recovery even more difficult. Step one is probably the most difficult. Don't panic.
Right away call for help. So make sure you never go out on the water, without a way to get a hold of someone and keep in mind some lakes don't have very good cell reception. That's why you should always have a cell phone and a radio. You also need to have an idea of where you are so you can tell rescuers. Be specific and try to find landmarks on either side of the shore. Giving a generic description of where you are will only delay the rescuers from getting to you. Next, especially if you are on a boat with people who have been drinking, do not let people just start to jump in the water. The team says they've seen many times where people have gone in the water after a person and then the rescuers end up with three victims instead of one.
We want to make it very clear that these dive experts do not recommend just anyone diving into the water after someone. But if you have had some water training, and you think you can get in the water safely here's what to keep in mind. If you saw them go in the water, chances are they are right there, slightly below the surface. So that's where you should start looking. The team says it's a misconception that a lake current will be able to move someone around right away under the water.
Make sure people in the boat are watching where you are entering the water. If you can't see in the water use your arms and legs to search, and if you find your loved one, don't waste time, and get them to the surface. These crews hope you never need to go through anything like this but they do want you to plan for it. Having rescue supplies ready and a plan in place, could very well save your life or the life of a loved one. They also say they've never had to search for someone underwater, who was wearing a life jacket. So when you head out on the water this summer, have one on. It can absolutely save your life.
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