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Transcript for Reach, Throw, Row, or Go

You do not need to be an Olympic swimmer to save others. In fact, non-swimmers who know what to do can save a life.

If you are standing on a dock when someone falls in and begins to struggle, you should try to “talk” the victim to safety. If he or she is unable to get to the dock, you should:


Extend a fishing rod, branch, oar, pole, boat hook, shirt, towel, or other object that can be used to reach out to the victim and pull him or her to safety.

If nothing is available and the victim is within arm’s reach, the rescuer should lie flat and grab the victim’s hand or wrist and then pull him or her to safety.


If the victim is too far away to reach and a boat isn’t handy, throw the victim a PFD or anything else that will float.


If a non-powered boat is convenient, row to the victim. Then use an oar or paddle to guide him or her to the stern. Let the victim remain in the water while holding to the stern as you paddle to shore. If the victim is too weak to hold on, hold him or her until more help arrives. If using a powerboat, stop the engine and glide to the victim from the downwind side. Help the victim into the boat, avoiding sharp objects.


Swimmers without lifesaving training should not swim to a victim. Never place yourself in the same danger. Instead, go for help. If you must swim to a victim, take along anything that floats to keep between you and the victim.

  • Unit 5 of 6
  • Topic 2 of 12
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