4 Signs of Drowning That Could Save Your Child's Life

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swimming poolSwimming 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.

More from The Stir: Mom's Failure to Call 911 When She Finds Her Toddlers Drowning Is Sad & Confusing

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

kid activities, safety, sports, summer survival


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knitt... knittykitty99

Thanks for this.  Its not what I would have expected.  Listening to the description gives me the chills.

Nurse... Nursekelly1980

I saw three kids drowning in one summer. It really is silent. And they are looking up at you, eyes wide open in fear. It's horrible. Luckily those three kids were saved.

Never... Never.A.Mom

Yes, I saw my 5-year-old cousin drowning once.

We (the bigger kids) had gone in the water and she had stayed behind with her mom.

When Mom left to talk to a friend, she went inside, trying to follow us. I'm very relieved that my Dad was paying attention, 'cause she slipped in soft sand and we were playing with our backs turned to shore.

Tal0n Tal0n

My middle brother (who could swim, btw) had gotten too far away from the raft in the middle of the lake.  Seven kids make an awful lot of racket, but still someone (I think it was me, but honestly I don't remember) noticed he was missing, then where he was.  Grown-ups sprang into action...he was very calm, but yeah.

He was fine, he had the good sense to try and float on his back once he saw help was on the way, so maybe he wasn't DROWNING drowning...but it was quiet.  He never yelled for help or was splashing around.  Luckily he was okay, and since my family (extended) isn't one that takes things overboard, the 4th of July fun in the lake continued.  My brother took a time out for awhile though, to get unsogged, but he was back in the water an hour later.

nonmember avatar Amy

I was at a work pool party last summer. I was standing at the edge of the pool chatting with a friend. All of a sudden, someone fully clothed ran into the pool, right in front of us. She grabbed a child in the water that apparently was really struggling and under water. We had NO idea! We were only a few feet from him and facing him too! Nothing caught our eye as abnormal- That was very scary!

nonmember avatar Lacremala

In 2009, my 12 month-old niece walked off of the sunshelf in my parent's pool into the deep end. She was under water in a second, and it was absolutely silent. No splashing, not even a peep. I immediately jumped over and grabbed her and pulled her up. She spat out some water but was fine... She actually did not even cry, I think she was so shocked by what happened. I tell everyone, with children it CAN be silent and you CANNOT take your eyes off of them for a second, that is all it takes! I was not the adult that was supposed to be watching her but thank goodness I was!

nonmember avatar Jasmine

This was so triggering to me. I can't swim and almost drowned twice. I have a son now and he's taken lessons and is like a little fish. However, I get so panicky and terrified when he's in the pool. So scary. Thank you for sharing this. Others need to know that drowning is not what it looks like in the movies.

bugspray bugspray

I was sitting at the edge of the pool once nursing my daughter and watching my 2 year old play on the steps. My mother and niece and nephew were in the pool a few feet away. My Dad was cleaning the pool. I watched my sons head as he climbed up and down the stairs. Then I realized I didn't see him. He had slipped in quietly without anyone noticing. I grabbed him and he was fine but it really scared me.It would have been so easy to have turned my attention to the baby for a minute thinking my mom was right there. Later that day when everyone was swimming I jumped up + yelled for my son forgetting I was holding him!

dearg76 dearg76

Actually this almost happened to us. When we were kids (my sister was about 4 I was 8) we were swimming at the lake and my parents were in the water with us, we were splashing around and my sister was trying to get to my parents and she started to drown, she was doing the stair thing and couldn't yell and not splashing. She was about 2 arms lengths from my mom. I saw the look of terror on her face and knew something was wrong. I grabbed her and held her up and started screaming for my dad. It was terrifying and we both still have nightmares about it occasionally

nonmember avatar kim

Yes I have about 2 weeks ago me and my kids went to a water park and my son who is 8 started to drown I was to far away to get to him fast the sad thing is she just stood there looking at him she finally asked him if he was drowning he could barely answer her he almost went in distress almost passed out thank god everything is ok with him!

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