- Family and Parenting
Signs Of Drowning
What Are The Warning Signs Of Drowning?
Many times we envision the Hollywood version of drowning. The helpless child thrashes about in the water yelling for help, and the lifeguard heroically goes into Bay Watch motions as they run towards the shoreline. Reality is much different. Cases of drowning often happen right before our eyes without realizing that the victim is drowning. Parents may be distracted by other people around the pool, or may simply not be watching, but even if you are that does not guarantee that you will recognize that someone is drowning until it's too late.
Photo: Creative Commons rickpilot_2000
1. Body will be in an upright position
Contrary to popular belief, a person in distress will not be doing the dead man's float. When a person is showing signs of drowning, also known as instinctive response drowning, they will be upright in the water. The majority of a person's weight begins to pull down into the water which causes the body to remain up right. If you notice someone in this position, you want to check to see if they are moving around in the water. People erroneously believe someone is floating or relaxing when they are mostly likely drowning. At this point, you have 20 to 60 seconds to respond.
Did you know?
Young children can drown in less than one inch of water, which is less than the depth of this box.
Have A First Aid Bag On Hand At The Pool
2. Hands Will Be Extended Out From The Body
While someone is drowning, you will not see the arms voluntarily move. We often think of someone thrashing about and waving their arms wildly. The reality is that arms are slack and spread out from the body. There may be some involuntary movement as they drown, but they have lost the ability to use their arms. Any rescue device you throw out, for instance, can not be reached. They simply cannot control their arms.
3. Legs will remain motionless
One main way you can tell if someone is simply swimming in place or drowning is to observe their legs. Are they kicking their legs to maintain their position? If the legs are moving, then the swimmer is conscious and voluntarily using their limbs. You still need to call out to the swimmer to check on them. Young swimmers may become overtired without realizing it. They may need a break by using a flotation device, or they may need to get out of the water for a while. If the swimmer answers you and they sound out of breath, then it is time to take a break.
Great For The Swimming Pool
If you are just relaxing around the pool, I recommend this little puddle jumper. I've had one for the past 5 years for my daughter, and it still holds up to wear and tear. She is almost 50 pounds, and it holds her up nicely. We chose this because the swimsuits with built in flotation tend to ride up to the baby's head. My daughter hated it, but with this puddle jumper she will have control over her arms and can kick with ease!
4. The Mouth Will Be Slack And Bob Just Above The Surface.
A person who is drowning will not be able to take a full breath when their mouth reaches the surface of the water. They will often bob up and down in the water with their mouth just at the surface. They may also have their heads back with their eyes closed and mouth open. The mouth will be slack or the person may hyperventilate while trying to catch their breath.