How to Recognize a Drowning Swimmer: Not What You Think4 min read
Every year more than 4,000 Americans drown in lakes, rivers and oceans, including hundreds in international waters, online cialis primarily in resort areas such as Mexico and the Caribbean. Most of us have never encountered a drowning swimmer, and based on fictional portrayals we have a very inaccurate impression of how a drowning swimmer behaves. Instead of flailing about
in the water screaming for help, the reality is that most swimmers in deep trouble remain quiet, move very little, and sink without being noticed even by people in close proximity. Mario Vittone, a writer on maritime safety, tells of a boat captain who spotted a potentially fatal incident from fifty feet away. The captain jumped off his boat and sprinted past astonished parents to save their nine-year old daughter, who had been quietly drowning not ten feet behind her father. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control report that many of the incidents of children drowning occurred while the children were being watched by both parents. So instead of watching in horror, we all need to learn to recognize the warning signs so we can act quickly to save a life. Lifeguards are trained to notice the “Instinctive Drowning Response”, a term coined by Dr. Francesco Pia, a water safety expert. Dr. Pia describes behaviors commonly used to avoid suffocating in water: Victims don't splash much, they don't wave, and they don't yell or call out. Here are the important features of the Instinctive Drowning Response:
- In most cases, drowning victims are incapable of calling out for help because the human body is wired to give priority to breathing and not speech.
- Drowning people’s mouths are not above the water long enough to enable them to exhale, draw a breath and then call out. They usually have just enough time to exhale and then rapidly inhale before their mouths go back under the water.
- A drowning victim’s natural instinct is to push arms outward and downward, not up as in a flailing motion, in order to lift the body out of the water.
- Waving arms is a voluntary movement. Drowning victims are incapable of performing voluntary movements such as waving for help, grabbing rescue equipment, or moving towards a rescuer.
- Drowning victims remain upright in the water, do not kick, and will struggle on the surface for an average of 60 seconds before going under for good.
Vittone also lists a number of signs that might help us recognize a drowning victim: glassy or closed eyes, a head that is tilted back , eyes and face covered with hair, mouths at or slightly below water level, ineffective swimming motions, hyperventilating or gasping, a vertical body and little to no use of legs. He adds that parents should recognize that when a child who usually makes noise playing in the water becomes quiet, there is usually a problem, even if the child can be seen with its head above the water. Silence in the water is not golden….. it’s almost a sure sign that a swimmer is lagging and in very dangerous waters. Know the signs and act fast to save a life.
Photo by knezovjb.