Swimming season is here, and some of us are getting ready to watch our kids like hawks when we're at the pool or the beach. But do we really know what we're looking for? Here's something I read recently in Slate that scared the bejeezus out of me: Drowning doesn't look like drowning.
No joke -- I had no idea. When we picture someone drowning, we imagine them splashing around noisily, but nope. It's silent and deadly. Drowning is the number two cause of accidental death for children. Even scarier, over half of the children who die from drowning will do so within 25 yards of a parent. So! Wouldn't you like to know what drowning DOES look like?
1. It's quiet. You can't yell when you're drowning. You're trying too hard to breathe.
2. There's no splashing. People may thrash around just before they start drowning. But once the Instinctive Drowning Response takes over, you lose control over your arms. Typically people will spread their arms out to either side and try to push down on the water so they can push their heads above the water.
3. Mouth near the surface. A drowning person will usually have their head back, mouth open. When their mouth is above the water, they will gasp in and out quickly before submerging back into the water.
4. Climbing an invisible staircase. This is what experts say drowning victims often look like they're doing. Their bodies will be upright. Some people appear to be trying to roll over to their back. And they're usually unable to kick at all.
So now you know what drowning looks like. I hope none of you reading this ever have to witness the sight of your child drowning, but if you do, at least now you'll recognize it. Tell your friends and family, and maybe this summer, we'll have fewer drowning deaths.
Have you ever seen someone drowning?
Image via Mariana Amorim/Flickr