the drowning pool

“1st. When you approach a person drowning in the water, assure him, with a loud and firm voice, that he is safe.

2nd. Before jumping in to save him, divest yourself as far and as quickly as possible of all clothes; tear them off if necessary, but if there is not time, loose, at all events, the foot of your drawers if they are tied, as, if you do not do so, they will fill with water and drag you.

3rd. On swimming to a person in the sea, do not seize him then, but keep off for a few seconds till he gets quiet, for it is sheer madness to take hold of a man who is struggling, and if you do, you run a great risk.

4th. Then get close to him and take fast hold of the hair of his head, turn him as quickly as possible onto his back, give him a sudden pull and this will cause him to float. Then throw yourself on your back also, and swim for the shore.”

Joseph R. Hodgson – Instructions for Saving Drowning Persons by Swimming to Their Relief (1858)

(Approved techniques of recovery have moved on a little from Hodgson’s ‘pull him by the hair’ method, and these days those hoping to be rescued are unlikely to be exclusively male.)

This bizarre title inspiration is thanks to my damaged brain. – ed.