When depicted in television and movies, drowning is a dramatic affair characterized by violent splashing, waving, and wailing for help.
But in real, life, drowning is frighteningly silent and undramatic. Drowning rarely resembles its Hollywood depiction, which may be why as many as half of drownings occur within 25 yards of another adult person, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, in 10 percent of drownings, adults will even watch a victim drown without even realizing what is happening.
As you enjoy the last of your summer at the beach, pool, or lake, you can avoid tragedy by keeping a lookout for these common signs of drowning.
Silence. Youngsters tend to make plenty of noise when playing in the water. If you notice that they’ve fallen silent, you should immediately locate them and find out the reason.
Vertical body. People who are drowning may keep upright in the water without splashing or kicking excessively. Victims may struggle for less than a minute before submersion.
Glassy or closed eyes. When someone is drowning, their eyes may close, or turn glassy and unfocused.
Tilted head. A drowning victim’s head may tilt back low in the water, with the mouth open at water level.
Gasping. You may notice that a person who is drowning start to gasp for air or hyperventilate.
Unable to yell for help. In most cases, people who are drowning are physiologically incapable of speaking, much less yelling for help. The body must be able to breathe before it can speak. When someone is drowning, their mouth may bob up and down below the surface, and they may not have enough time to breathe in and out and scream for assistance.
Unable to wave for help. A person who is drowning may lose control of their arms, and may be unable to wave for help or swim towards a rescuer, life preservers, or throw rings.
Apparent calmness. In many cases, people who are drowning may appear to be calmly treading water and gazing up at the sky. In order to determine whether or not they are drowning, you should ask if they are all right. If they cannot answer, you may have less than 30 seconds to reach them.
Remember, if you see a person flailing and calling out for help in the water, they could still be in danger. Often times, people who thrash violently and yell for assistance are experiencing aquatic distress. These types of accident victims may be able to swim towards a rescuer or piece of rescue equipment.
Preventing Drowning Accidents among Children
The CDC reports that drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death for kids between the ages of 1 and 14—second only to auto accidents. The majority of drowning victims between the ages of 1 and 4 drown in a backyard swimming pool.
If you are a parent, you should always stay within arm’s length of your child and remain alert when they are in or near the water. Remember that a child can drown within seconds – before you even realize he or she is in the water. Keep a close eye on children whenever you visit the pool, beach, or lake, even if they know how to swim.
About the Author:
Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.