Summer is here and a lot of beaches are reopening... People are getting ready to relax and their pools and have a lesuire swim. I feel like this isn't talked about eas often as it should be and though you may not be a certified lifeguard, it's always good to know the sign of drowning. Before I begin some of you may believe this will never be something you'll witness but you can't count on that, you could be information away from saving someone's life... So why don't we go over it shall we? (Remember I'm obviously no expert and this is just for refreshing purposes and spreading the word!)
1. My experience with drowning
I'm not going to lie, I got the idea of creating this because I've had a personal experience with drowning. I couple years ago my family went to Florida for the 4th of July. I never learned how to swim so you'd think I would have the common sense to stay where I can walk, but I was in such a great mood and there was this huge slide near the deep end. If 5-8 year olds could tread the slide so can I right? Bottom line it was a terrible idea and I plunged into the water face first. I panicked which should be the last thing you do in that scenerio but I wasn't thinking, I just wanted to get air. I didn't have sense of direction and the water currents of the pool were basically tossing me around. By the time I got upright I already swallowed a considerable amount of pool water. I was thrashing and wanted to call for help but I found my throat tight almost like when I got a cold and I barely could let out a word. My parents were on the other side of the pool helping my younger sister, then a random man scooped me up in the most dramatic way possible and lunged me toward the edge of the pool. That was the closest to drowning I've gotten and though I wasn't in peril enough to be considered as a drowning victim I was still shaken up by it and haven't stepped in water since...
2. Most victims of drowning are under 14 years old
This is an important fact because this specific age group is the most vaunrable to getting in this situation.
From 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day.1 An additional 332 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.
Children left by themselves in pools can find themselves stuffing under water in under 10 seconds which is actually a frightening statistic. Younger children can also find themselves wondering into unsafety guarded backyard pools and fall in which have happened in many cases over the years. When you suspect a drowning can occur, realize that there is an extremely high chance the victim is a child and they can easily be overlooked if small. Don't go on your phone if you have kids in the pool even if there is a lifegaurd around, they aren't all seeing. Floaties on younger children who can't swim is a must and even on adults who are just learning.
3. There isn't as much movement as you think
Drowning is actually a pretty silent death from what is lead to be believed. The only movement in actual drowning consist of mostly instinctual muscle movements that you can't control on your own. Guess what muscles they are? Your arms! And your arms won't be waving for help either. A drowning person will instinctively bring their arms downward in an attempt to keep themselves afloat for as long as they can. Legs don't usually play much of a role in keeping them up so if you are thinking a friend of yours may be drowning, watch closely at their movements. Alcohol can also play a role in this as;
Alcohol consumption significantly increases the likelihood of immersions resulting in drowning during aquatic activities. -injury prevention.bmj.com
Though there aren't many studies on this, alcohol can really inhibit your ability to swim like it would inhibit your ability to walk on land. Just take it into consideration before you go chugging vodka and planning to do cannonballs after. To summarize if you see downwards thrashing from someone who's rest of their body seems overall limb (especially their legs) they may be drowning.
4. Help! I can't call for help!
As you could have been possibly been gathering, drowning victims usually don't make any sounds other than the thrashing of the water around them. The reason for this is when drowning your throat will close to keep water from pouring into your lungs, making it physically impossible for you to scream for help like in movies. This is a very short and straight to the point step, if someone is awfully quiet and they seem to be struggling they are very possibly drowning. (Take not that people can drown under water too and you may not see them ever come up during their struggle!)
5. Alright so how do I save a drowning person?
This is a tough question to answer as the answer varies, I have read multiple sources giving different suggestions for such a situation. But there is a general line that goes and I will underline them.
- Call 911 - Do so immediately if you are sure they are drowning before you take any rash actions
- Assess if you want to go in and save them - realize you could easily be putting yourself in their position as a struggling person can't control their movement and can take you down with them. Be sure you want to risk your life to carry out this action
- If they aren't breathing preform CPR
Push hard, push fast. Place your hands, one on top of the other, in the middle of the chest. Use your body weight to help you administer compressions that are at least 2 inches deep and delivered at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute. -red cross.org
Continue CPR until the help you called from the previous step arrives or until they start breathing again. Remember at a stage where the person is unconscious it's between life and death and if you take the responsibility to help that person you should focus all your effort into it.
6. Great but how do I keep myself from drowning?
For one don't be like me and chose a body of water you are actually capable of swimming in. Don't be in idiot dude you don't want to die on a taco Tuesday do you??
A common mistake people make while panicking is to struggle mightily to keep their head high above the water. Don’t do this. You’ll tire yourself out in no time flat. Instead, tread water or try to float to conserve energy.
And for god sake don't jump off cliffs or even dive into a pool head first, which is usually common knowledge but just in case you've forgotten, there are rocks below that river/pond and the water in your pool isn't as deep as you think.
IN CONCLUSION I'm not telling you to be ready to spot a drowning person everywhere you turn, I'm asking that you realize these overlooked signals of distress exist for the better of our communities and to avoid being one of them. I really wanted to address this today so I went straight to it. This is a lengthy my take and I'm sorry for how boring it may seem, I appreciate you taking your time to read it through and have a good summer you sexy animals!