A quote from an interesting article follows below that refutes the conventional images of drowning. Closest I have come to drowning as a kid was at the Y when a smaller child, playing around, jumped on my back and put me in a choke hold while I was swimming underwater. It was quite a tussle to get him off and make it back to the surface–the nearby lifeguard didn't see it.

The Instinctive Drowning Response – so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC). Drowning does not look like drowning…

Full article here, "Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning"

Jeff Watson adds:

As a surfer, I have saved more than a few people from drowning. Every instance was with them getting caught in the rip and trying to get out by swimming against the current and becoming exhausted. I would paddle over to them and insist that I tow them in to shore. Often, people would refuse my assistance, not realizing their danger. I sat on my board nearby, waiting for them until they changed their mind, or started to swallow water or go under. My Senior Lifesaving teacher once told me that one needs to get control of the victim before you can make the rescue. My own technique is jabbing my thumb as hard as I can into the side of their rib cage (between the ribs) which makes them submit. And you're right, drowning does not look like drowning. Fellow dailyspec-er, George Parkanyi should recount his heroic life saving experience. 





Speak your mind

2 Comments so far

  1. Ed on June 11, 2013 8:18 am

    When I was in my late 20’s I saved a kid from drowning in a river. I had just gone out (and being a strong swimmer) had been swimming against the current. Some kids (12, 13 or so) saw what I had done and tried to do it.

    They reached a point of discomfort and one of them did exactly what the article outlines - arms out, mouth bobbing in and out of water, can’t get head fully up, chin back, etc.

    I think anyone who has been near water a ton, such as competitive swimming, surfing, etc, can recognize that response. I was able to swim out and pull him to a save area he could touch bottom very quickly, but I know his mom was basically watching and while nervous and calling him in, had not realized he was immobilized and in serious trouble.

  2. Craig on June 14, 2013 2:25 pm

    The problem with small children is the main difference between drowning and swimming is taking a breath. The drowning ones often look like they are swimming other than that. As the article says, they aren’t covering any ground but most small kids don’t cover a lot of ground.


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