Instinctive Drowning Response: Do You Know What Drowning Really Looks Like? by Kimberly Johnson

6 years ago

Instinctive Drowning Response: Do You Know What Drowning Really Looks Like?

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).

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Ann Marie Patitucci
This is such important info, and just in time for summer. Thanks, Kimberly Johnson !
Elisa Schmitz
OMG, so scary! Thank you for shedding light on this, Kimberly Johnson !!
Dieter Schmitz
As a lifeguard for 6 summers, I agree with Kimberly Johnson that there is no "typical" sign of a swimmer in danger. Strong swimming skills, vigilant partnering in the water, and respect for what nature can bring to bear are keys to safety.
Meredith Schneider
So scary @KimberyJohnson ! A must read and share for all! I learned how to swim at Jones Beach in Long Island, sometimes wish we lived closer to the ocean for our kids to learn how to swim in the ocean vs a pool. But no matter where they learn or how strong of a swimmer we must all be alert and watch not only our own kids but others as well.
Mindy Hudon, M.S., CCC-SLP
This is so important and scary. My son had a near drowning accident when he was 5. He was at a kids camp and people were walking by him not knowing he was drowning. Scariest day of my life. Thanks for this tip!
Kim Kusiciel
Everyone should know the signs of this scary reality. Thanks for sharing this tip @kimalee. Everyone can find your tip on Pinterest, too.

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