This is a bit of a departure from my usual topics, but I was really impressed by the video below (I’ve included the link, in case the embed doesn’t work). With summer here and everyone hitting the pool/beach, it seemed the right time to get the word out. I know I learned a lot, and I hope it’s helpful to you, too.
We human beings have a number of hard-wired, uncontrollable, instinctive responses (we had even more as infants), designed by nature to protect us: we blink when an object comes at us suddenly; we experience a fit of coughing when something gets lodged in our throat; we feel our heart racing when we’re afraid, as our bodies ready for a possible “fight or flight” action.
Turns out, there’s an instinctive response when one is drowning, too. It’s a completely involuntary set of movements, and it looks nothing like the portrayals in film and t.v. People have been known to drown – especially children – with others standing right next to them. But no one recognized what they saw as drowning.
Differences between Aquatic Distress and Drowning:
|Behaviors: “Aquatic Distress” (this can lead to drowning)||Behaviors: Drowning (the person has 20-60 seconds before loss of consciousness)|
|Yelling for help||Can’t speak; just trying to breathe (If you aren’t sure, try asking “Are you all right?” If they can’t answer, act quickly)|
|Waving arms/thrashing in the water. Can respond to a rescuer and grab a rope or buoy.||Arms out laterally, pressing down on the water’s surface (instinctive attempt to gain leverage). Cannot control arm movements or reach for a flotation device.|
|The head is out of the water||Mouth is moving just above and below the water surface, barely clearing the water to catch a breath.|
Here’s a dramatic video of a drowning boy. Don’t worry; he was rescued in time. Note the people standing right near him, with no clue as to what was happening. In their defense, you can also see how quiet and barely noticeable it is. Thank goodness for trained lifeguards! The video includes a terrific expert-narrated explanation of what is going on.
For more info, check out this link, from On Scene: the Journal of U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue (p. 14).
What do you do to stay safe? I’d love to hear from you.
Here’s to a safe summer for you and your family!
Until next time,