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Drowning Doesn’t Always Look Like Drowning: Signs To Look For

Cristiano Ribeiro, Thinkstock

It happens every year. As soon as the weather gets a little warmer, there’s always a story on the news reporting an accidental drowning of a child. I think when us parents see that, we rush the unimaginable of that happening to us out of our minds as quickly as we can. I think we stupidly also think, “Well, I’d know if my child was drowning”. That’s not true at all.

The signs of drowning aren’t always what you see in the movies. Drowning can be a very quiet, splash-free accident.

I came across an article from Slate via a Facebook share from a friend and wanted to pass this information along to you…

According to a Coast Guard’s In The Scene article, the signs of drowning are quite different than what we all expect:

1.“Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.

2.Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.

3.Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.

4.Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.

5.From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.”

Here are some other tips from Slate

“Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs—vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder”

As always, there are many things we can do to ensure our children are at a minimal risk for drowning:

  • No matter what skill level your child is at swimming, there should ALWAYS be an adult supervising water activity
  • Swimming lessons are a great resource for not only giving your kids confidence in the pool, but for teaching them how to recover from a potentially dangerous situation
  • Talk to your kids about the dangers of horse-play in the pool
  • Talk to your kids about being aware of others in the pool
  • Be mindful of their energy-level. If they are obviously tired, it’s time for a break

No one wants to think of the possibility of a drowning accident. But, the truth is that it happens more often than you’d think. Protect your kids and be cautious of these great indicators of drowning.

 

 

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