- According to the CDC, drowning is the second largest cause of death in children under 15, just behind traffic accidents.
- 750 children will die this year in water.
- The perceived wisdom is that people who are drowning become distressed.
- And they mark that distress by shouting, waving, thrashing around in the water.
- But that’s not how drowning works. It’s quiet, it’s quick.
- The victim literally slips away.
And so as the summer vacations start and the water beckons, let’s have a look at the myths that surround drowning.
Myths that, if dispelled, should alert you when something is wrong.
Heartstopping Myth #1: Drowning children will call out
People who are drowning are unable to speak. Speaking is a function secondary to breathing. If someone cannot breathe, they cannot speak. There is also no time. When a child is drowning, she will alternately sink below and then rise above the water’s surface. While they are above the surface a child will have to exhale and inhale before they sink again. There is not enough time to cry out.
Heartstopping Myth #2: They will wave their arms
The instinctive reaction of a drowning person is to extend their arms outwards. This response enables them to lift their head up for air. But just long enough before they sink. Again. Drowning children are unable to voluntarily control their arm movements. The prime motivation is to breathe. That takes priority. And it takes everything. Everything.
Heartstopping Myth #3: They will thrash
People who are drowning remain upright in the water. And don’t kick. They are quiet. They are focused on breathing.
Heartstopping Myth #4: Drowning children are unattended children
Fifty percent of all child drownings will occur twenty-five yards or less from a parent or other adult. That's 375 children a year who die unnecessarily, unnoticed by the people meant to protect them and who themselves are condemned from then on to lead lives of guilt, grief and self-recrimination.
The blog author goes on to list more good advice related to the subject of drowning.
"Mario Vittone lays out in his classic post 'Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning,' based on the work of Francesco A. Pia Ph.D, the real signs we should be looking for:
- 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.
The indications we believe to be drowning are, in fact, signs of aquatic distress, a precursor to the real thing." (You can read the full post here.)
My wife and I have a four year-old son. And we want our little man to have fun this summer.
But when it comes to swimming at the pool, we can never be too careful.
What about you?