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Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning


        Drowning is not the violent, splashing call for help that most people expect.  Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event.  It is the second highest cause of accidental death in children, ages 15 and under (behind motor vehicle accidents) and about half of these deaths occur within 25 yards of an adult.

The Instinctive Drowning Response is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water.

Look for the following signs:

-Head low in the water, mouth at water level

-Head tilted back with mouth open

-Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus or 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 onto back

-Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder

They may look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck.  Ask, “Are you all right?”  If they can answer, they probably are.  If they return a blank stare, you must get to them immediately.  Children playing in the water make noise.  When they get quiet, you need to get to them and find out why.


Source:  http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/  (The author is an expert on water safety, drowning and survival at sea.)


Wishing all a safe and healthy summer!

Susan Quigley, RN, BSN, NCSN