Pardon me, are you drowning?
Drowning is the number two cause of accidental death, preceded only by vehicle accidents.
Hollywood has conditioned us to expect drowning victims to violently splash and flail about while calling frantically for help.
Unfortunately that is not the case in real life. Accidental drowning is quiet, so much so that even people a few feet away may never notice.
Drowning people cannot breathe and therefore cannot call for help, and according to the U.S. Coast Guard, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. They instinctively extend their arms to the side and press down in an attempt to raise their mouths out of the water. Physiologically, they can’t stop drowning to perform voluntary movements such as signal for help.
Warm summer days are almost upon us. It’s important to keep alert around water and know the signs that someone may be in trouble.
- Drowning people may remain upright in the water with no evidence of kicking and may appear to be treading water, sometimes struggling only 20 to 60 seconds before going under.
- Their eyes may be closed or glassy and unfocused.
- Their head is low in the water, mouth at water level or tilted back with the mouth open. Children’s heads may fall forward.
- Children playing in the water are generally noisy. If they are quiet something may be wrong.
Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they are drowning. A person may look fine, but may still be about to slip under the water. Ask “are you alright?” If they answer all is well. If not you may only have 20 seconds to save a life.
Recommended reading: Hands only CPR