Instinctive Drowning Response: Do You Know What Drowning Really Looks Like? by Kimberly Johnson
Many people believe drowning happens like you see in the movies – a person frantically flailing their arms and shouting for help. But that's usually not the case. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. It can be so "uncharacteristic," says Mario Vittone, a leading expert on immersion hypothermia, drowning, sea survival and safety at sea, that about 10 percent of the time parents watch their child drown without realizing it's happening. This summer, keep your eyes out for signs of the Instinctive Drowning Response when pool or beach side:
- Head low in the water with mouth at water level.
- Inability to speak or call for help.
- Arms extended laterally, pressing down on the water.
- Body vertical, but not kicking (may appear to be bobbing).
- Appears to be climbing invisible ladder or dog paddling.
- Eyes are closed or glassy.
- Appears to be gasping for breath or hyperventilating.
Read more about the Instinctive Drowning Response (page 14).