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Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning--Read if you live near water!

Friday, May 27, 2011

I copied this from the following link. I have lived in Florida and been around water most of my life and I did not know this information. Even years ago when I took advanced Life Saving, I did not learn this. It is a little long but very important to know. I encourage you to go to the link and read the entire article but I have pasted the most important information below.

Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning

Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine, described the instinctive drowning response like this:
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.

(Source: On Scene Magazine: Fall 2006 (page 14))
This doesn’t mean that a person that is yelling for help and thrashing isn’t in real trouble – they are experiencing aquatic distress. Not always present before the instinctive drowning response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long – but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in their own rescue. They can grab lifelines, throw rings, etc.
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.
So if a crew member falls overboard and everything looks OK – don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them, “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are. If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents – children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks for the information, a lot of it is new to me. We have a pool and we always have adults around,The beaches are so much more difficult to watch Pat inMaine, THANK YOU emoticon
    2471 days ago
    I didnt know a lot of this either. Since I can't swim, I
    avoid water where I cannot see the bottom...

    2486 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/29/2011 4:01:17 PM
    A great reminder as the water season starts (well, up North, anyway... I suppose it's year-round in Florida!). Another thing I've often heard is of people who drowned because others who saw them thought they were playing... were totally unaware that they were drowning. So if you're in a position to help someone, do it. At worst, they'll tell you they're fine, but in worst case scenarios you may safe a life!
    2487 days ago
    Thank you, very good article. When we go out on our boat No Drinking for any one, and every one has to wear a life jacket.
    When Hubby takes any one fishing, No Drinking, and the same life jackets.
    A very good reminder, thanks for posting. Hope you are doing good.
    2488 days ago
    It is a sad thing to take care of a child who was the vctim of a back yard pool drowning.He lived but is a vegetable.Never leave any child access to a pool with out supervision. goodd info in yur blog thanks
    2488 days ago
    Wow I did not know this and I always thought that the person who was drowning could call and wave for help. Now I know better, THANK YOU FOR THIS INFORMATION!!!
    2488 days ago
    No matter if you know this or not it's important enough to refresh you knowledge. thank you so much for sharing.
    2488 days ago
    One of the most frustrating things I hear is people saying they won't get help for someone who doesn't wave for help. On more than once occasion, I have alerted lifeguards to people who weren't able to lift their arms out of the water to wave for help and were in trouble in a known rip current, lateral current, undertow, backwash zone.

    It actually takes a lot to wave one's arms for help, especially when in the ocean where undertows quickly grab at the feet to tow a person under. Also people can't necessary call "Help!" when they are out of ear shot of most people.

    Also something else that people don't realize--People who are rescued can die from "secondary drowning" if they have breathed a lot of water into their lungs. Rescuing people quickly and ensuring they get emergency paramedic help is crucial. Rescuers need to know a person who has been rescued from drowning still is at risk if there is water in the lungs. Often people rescued have swallowed a lot of water whether they know it or not. Paramedics may suggest constantly flushing out the system with spring water to flush the salt out of the system.

    2488 days ago
    I had heard the saying that "children drown silently" I didn't realize that it also goes for adults as well. Thank you for the information. emoticon
    2488 days ago
    Absolutely TRUE!

    I was in aquasize once and went a little to far in the deep end because I was trying to get a ball for the class. I lost my step and everything happened that way.

    Perfect information.

    By the way, the only thought or purpose in your mind (instinct) is to try to get your footing...that's why you're vertical. I knew that the floor to the pool was down, I couldn't find it.

    The lifeguard got me. I think she was shook up as much as I was. We are great friends now.

    Oh, yeah, I thought that I would add that when I was 13, I was in a dugout with my cousins and my 10 year old cousin that could swim was struggling. I went to her and I brought her to the surface and took her to the shore. She was drowning and her sister (a really good swimmer) thought that she was having fun. How could that be? She wasn't making a sound.

    Boy did my cousin feel bad when she realized what was happening.

    Thank you for blogging this information.
    2488 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/27/2011 5:01:46 PM
    Thanks so much for sharing. I think we all are leaving your blog with knowledge we did have before. That is what is so awesome, we teach each other daily.

    Enjoy your weekend and be safe.

    2488 days ago
  • JANE1216
    Lots of things here that i did not know --- thanks so much for sharing.

    2488 days ago
    I read the entire article....Very informative. Thanks for sharing.
    2488 days ago
  • JESS0107
    This is so true! I saved my little brother in a swimming pool one time and I didn't know he was under until I couldn't find him. When I did, he showed all symptoms of this and I quickly dove into the water to save him. Needless to say, I made sure he was with someone at all times. It's very scary!
    2488 days ago
  • SUNNY332
    Wow - I certainly wasn't aware of this and I, like you, took Advanced Life Saving and worked as a lifeguard when I was in HS and college.

    Thanks so much!

    Sunny emoticon Here is to safe swimming for all of us this summer.
    2488 days ago
    Awesome information just in what you have shared. With summer coming and trips to the swimming pools and beaches, it's nice to know this information. Thanks for sharing.
    2488 days ago
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