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Old     (dbdb)      Join Date: Oct 2005       05-09-2012, 1:33 PM Reply   
I read this on a different forum and thought it would be useful here too. We are all around water enough.

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

The new captain jumped from the cockpit, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the owners who were swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not ten feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”

How did this captain know – from fifty feet away – what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew knows what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life.

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 – Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine, described the instinctive drowning response like this:

1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.

2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.

3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.

4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.

5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

(Source: On Scene Magazine: Fall 2006)

This doesn’t mean that a person that is yelling for help and thrashing isn’t in real trouble – they are experiencing aquatic distress. Not always present before the instinctive drowning response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long – but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in their own rescue. They can grab lifelines, throw rings, etc.

Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

* Head low in the water, mouth at water level
* Head tilted back with mouth open
* Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
* Eyes closed
* Hair over forehead or eyes
* Not using legs – Vertical
* Hyperventilating or gasping
* Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
* Trying to roll over on the back
* Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.

So if a crew member falls overboard and everything looks OK – don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them, “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are. If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents – children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.
Old     (jeff_mn)      Join Date: Jul 2009       05-09-2012, 1:40 PM Reply   
great post
Old    bigdtx            05-09-2012, 1:52 PM Reply   
Wow. Powerful. I guess after reading this it's no surprise that people drown in party coves and just offshore all the time with people nearby and nobody notices until it's too late.
Old     (mim3)      Join Date: Sep 2006       05-09-2012, 1:57 PM Reply   
Great reminder as we head into the boating season. Some time ago one of the "news channels" did a report on drowning. They showed a video taken on a crowded beach. In the middle of many many people was a child drowning (as described above). People were within a short distance but nobody noticed, except for the lifeguard who rescued the child.
Old     (fouroheight68)      Join Date: May 2006       05-09-2012, 2:58 PM Reply   
A few years ago in Lake Havasu my (ex) girlfriend's life was saved from nearly drowning. If you have been to Havasu, you know how many boats can congregate in one area with their engines running. She was in the water and passed out face down from the exhaust fumes. Unfortunately, I was on another boat and didn't notice. All of a sudden there was a commotion and she was pulled from the water and onto a houseboat where we were able to get her breathing again. A few more seconds and she might not have made it - I think about it all the time.

Its a scary thing, especially when alcohol is involved. I learned alot of lessons real fast that day.
Old     (pprior)      Join Date: Jan 2012       05-09-2012, 3:37 PM Reply   
Superb post
Old     (saberworks)      Join Date: Sep 2010       05-09-2012, 3:46 PM Reply   
I've seen it. Friend of mine in high school fell out of a canoe, wasn't wearing a vest, couldn't swim (yep, 3 stupid things in a row). I saw him in the water, first his arms would be straight up and down then he would press them sideways just as described. His head came out of the water for a split second and then back under. It almost looked like he was trying to do slow-motion jumping jacks. Luckily I was able to help him out, and also lucky that although he was a big guy, he didn't panic and drag me under, too.
Old     (cragrat)      Join Date: Mar 2012       05-09-2012, 3:47 PM Reply   
Just one more reason Wake World is such a tremendous resource. Thank you SO much for this post. Powerful, indeed...
Old     (kybool)      Join Date: Aug 2004       05-09-2012, 4:28 PM Reply   
Great post

Dave - I would consider re-posting this at the beginning of every summer
Old     (fullspeed)      Join Date: Oct 2005 Location: Santa Cruz County CA       05-09-2012, 4:39 PM Reply   
PLR, thank you for the thread it was educational. I am going to pass this one on for sure.
Old     (wakeworld)      Join Date: Jan 1997       05-09-2012, 6:28 PM Reply   
Awesome! Thanks for posting!
Old     (srock)      Join Date: Mar 2002       05-10-2012, 9:07 AM Reply   
Excellent excellent post. I had a friend, who is in excellent shape, tire while trying to swim back the boat against a strong incoming tide. I thought we was OK and he made it back to the boat but he was visibly upset for about 2 hours. He said he was drowning. I was watching him the whole time, and knowing he could just go with the tide and grab other rafting boats I thought no big deal. I finally threw him a line but I never realized it was that bad. I am forwarding this to everyone.
Old     (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       05-10-2012, 10:09 AM Reply   
gave me the chills.
Old     (larry1167)      Join Date: Jun 2010       05-10-2012, 10:12 AM Reply   
Saberworks brings up a very important point. The risk of the drowning victim taking you down too. If you see someone in trouble and are going in the water to save them, try to bring something with you if at all possible. Life jacket, noodle etc. Offer that to them first so you reduce the risk of being pulled down also. Not as big a deal if you are going in to save a small child but if it's a big person it can get bad fast.
Old     (norcalrider)      Join Date: Jun 2002       05-10-2012, 2:29 PM Reply   

I wouldn't attempt an unaided rescue unless you are a trained lifeguard. That's why you carry a throwable on board.

I worked through college as a state beach lifeguard. You would be surprised how calm some people in distress can look. Good article.
Old     (Bakes)      Join Date: Mar 2010       05-10-2012, 3:18 PM Reply   
Had 6 kids drown trying to save each other back in 2010 down here on the Red River. Water is fairly unforgiving to those who cannot swim.
Old     (BTV)      Join Date: Jul 2010       05-10-2012, 7:50 PM Reply   
Here is link to the video
Old     (srock)      Join Date: Mar 2002       05-11-2012, 11:56 AM Reply   
I sent this out to a bunch of friends and instantly received two stories. One person had his 5 year old brother saved in a pool after he went under water. Another picked up a swimmer they had passed in the inlet. After passing him they decided to circle back because something "just was not right" and at that point they ended pulling him aboard. He was trying to help a drowning friend who was recused. The rescue team left not knowing he was in the water. It took a while but once he recovered he said he became exhausted and was going under. Again a good post and read.
Old     (larry1167)      Join Date: Jun 2010       05-11-2012, 1:29 PM Reply   
What's so cool about this post is that people are getting trained a bit right now. Me included.
Old     (MIKEnNC)      Join Date: Nov 2012       01-14-2014, 7:54 PM Reply   
Heh, stumbled across this and figured would be a good one to bump back to the top for those like myself that havent seen it
Old     (Salister)      Join Date: Nov 2013       01-14-2014, 10:49 PM Reply   
Every year a group of friends rent a house boat. Its all fun, we drink and party and eat good and jam out. We drink and swim at the same time, well we float and drink. But the rule is you where a life jacket. We can be in the water for hours but we wear jackets. Swiming is great, but when you cant touch, you get tired very fast and the lakes are bigger then any pool. Just wear it. We always have a new person that feels like they are too good for a jacket to jump in. and sure they are fine for about 10 minutes but when they see how much fun and easy of a time the rest of us are having after a half hour/ hour. They always cave and get one on. I dont even think about the lake with out one.

Great post.
Old     (norwalkbeast)      Join Date: May 2011       01-15-2014, 7:00 AM Reply   
Thats is all so true! I am a lifeguard. Most of the time when people are drowning it is silent and nobody in the pool really even notices. It would be even more scary in a lake or a river where you can not see to the bottom. Always keep your eye open for that stuff. Good post!

Last edited by norwalkbeast; 01-15-2014 at 7:00 AM. Reason: typo
Old     (KJ865)      Join Date: Nov 2013       01-15-2014, 7:28 AM Reply   
Really great post. Thanks for digging it up again. Wish everyone would take the time to read this.

Sent from my SPH-L720 using Tapatalk
Old     (racer808)      Join Date: Jan 2013       01-15-2014, 9:47 AM Reply   
And if you drown
You wont even make a sound
You'll just swallow water down
At the bottom you'll find out that it's quiet when you drown

"Autopilot Off - Make A Sound"
Old     (wakebrdjay)      Join Date: Apr 2008       01-15-2014, 10:09 AM Reply   
Haven't read every post so don't know if it has been brought up.When rescuing a person in distress try to approach them from behind so they can't try to climb up you and hold you under.
Old     (norcalrider)      Join Date: Jun 2002       01-15-2014, 12:35 PM Reply   
Originally Posted by wakebrdjay View Post
Haven't read every post so don't know if it has been brought up.When rescuing a person in distress try to approach them from behind so they can't try to climb up you and hold you under.
Reach, throw, row, go...

Unless you have training, do not risk approaching a victim and putting your life at risk as well. I spent years on towers at the beach and my lifeguard training would not agree with approaching from behind. I also wouldn't attempt a rescue without a buoy unless you're an incredibly strong swimmer.
Old     (bftskir)      Join Date: Jan 2004       01-15-2014, 2:19 PM Reply   
So if you aren't trained you just watch them drown. Wow.
Old     (bftskir)      Join Date: Jan 2004       01-15-2014, 2:22 PM Reply   
I've gone in for somebody and I'd do it again.
Old     (norcalrider)      Join Date: Jun 2002       01-15-2014, 3:42 PM Reply   
Originally Posted by bftskir View Post
So if you aren't trained you just watch them drown. Wow.
That's not what I said. Know your limitations and abilities.

Reach, throw, row, go.

Going in is the last resort especially for the untrained.

It's altruistic and all to go into a situation untrained but becoming a victim yourself is not wise. I've pulled a lot of people out of the water in my life, ridden gurney's into the ER, loaded life flights, ect... Don't over-estimate your abilities and make the situation worse for those who are trained.

Before you try to argue google "rescuer drowns" and you will see that on a regular basis the guys who have your bravado and false confidence become an additional victim.

Read this:

Last edited by norcalrider; 01-15-2014 at 3:44 PM.
Old     (eubanks01)      Join Date: Jun 2001       01-15-2014, 5:37 PM Reply   
Thanks all for the great reminders about water safety.

Check out the LV Project. Super sad story from a family in our area that lost their son. You can listen to the mom's interview with our local sports station. She is trying to encourage ALL people to wear life vests all the time...not just kids. Terrible story, but great project to bring awareness to all.
Old     (bftskir)      Join Date: Jan 2004       01-15-2014, 6:02 PM Reply   
No bravado nor false confidence here. I know my limitations. Once someone goes under you have seconds before it's too late. If you read the article you'd know they may not be able to grab anything tossed to them. I never found the guy I was free diving for but the sheriffs dive team plucked him from the spot I had dived. And I would do it again.
Old     (bftskir)      Join Date: Jan 2004       01-15-2014, 6:08 PM Reply   
Why are so many people so adverse to wearing life jackets?
Old     (norcalrider)      Join Date: Jun 2002       01-16-2014, 10:25 AM Reply   
Originally Posted by bftskir View Post
Why are so many people so adverse to wearing life jackets?
Bravado and a false sense of confidence.

Originally Posted by bftskir View Post
No bravado nor false confidence here. I know my limitations. Once someone goes under you have seconds before it's too late. If you read the article you'd know they may not be able to grab anything tossed to them. I never found the guy I was free diving for but the sheriffs dive team plucked him from the spot I had dived. And I would do it again.
I've read the article and it's worth distributing... More importantly, I've been trained and professionally employed as a beach lifeguard. I know my abilities as I've trained and tested them. I've had many rescues including one on my last vacation.

You've never actually rescued anyone or experienced that physical interaction but you refute the warnings from someone who is trained. That's bravado and false confidence.

Look you went in and tried. Good for you, I'm sorry you had to experience that loss. I've had colleagues with training who experienced the same loss and it's devastating.

I cannot tell someone to not react but the Red Cross, YMCA, US Lifesaving Association all warn people without training to not attempt a rescue without safety equipment. It's your call at the end of the day but rescuers drowning happens on a regular basis. Happened in Southern California just after Thanksgiving this year and will happen again.

Get some training, it's not that much of a time commitment and most communities have courses early spring to get a crop of lifeguards certified for the local pools. The rescue training and first aid is valuable especially if you're on or around water regularly which is assumed by being on this forum.
Old     (ryanw209)      Join Date: Jan 2010       01-16-2014, 1:45 PM Reply   
Listen to norcalrider. I also have some decent training in water rescue and he is spot on. A person that is in distress or drowning will have a naural reaction to latch on to whatever or whoever they can and when they do it is almost impossible to keep yourself and them afloat and you wont be able to get them off. They will try to climb up your body until they calm down and while doing so you will go down.

If you do end up swimming out to a drowning person stop at least 10ft away from them and try to calm them down before you get any closer. If they are in panic mode and are swimming toward you keep your distance and splash them in the face. I know that doesn't make sense but if you drown also you both die.
Old     (DenverRider)      Join Date: Feb 2013       01-16-2014, 3:15 PM Reply   
I was jumping off a popular cliff at a river when I floated down to a drowning person. It was eerie how calm he seemed as he asked me to help him but as soon as I got almost within arms reach he tried to take me down. I thought he was messing with me. He reached out for me, sunk, and bobbed back up a few times before I knew for sure that he actually needed help. I went in hard and fast to get close enough so I could hit his shoulder and spin him around facing away from me so he couldn't grab me. I had seen a picture in a boy scout manual where you put your arm across their chest and hold their chin with your hand so that's what I did. It worked out but I'm still blown away by how calm he seemed. Nothing like the movies.

I've seen another method where a friend of mine was drowning. She started swimming in a circle instead of heading toward shore. Someone with lifeguard training swam out to her and instead of grabbing her, he just swam backwards toward shore after she started trying to get to him. He didn't let her get him until they could touch the bottom.
Old     (Bam6961)      Join Date: Apr 2011       01-16-2014, 9:49 PM Reply   
In addition, if a victim is overly aggressive and pulling you down just swim down below them. The last thing they will want to do is go under water.
Old     (phathom)      Join Date: Jun 2013       01-17-2014, 12:03 AM Reply   
Great post. I think it should be a sticky.
Old     (bftskir)      Join Date: Jan 2004       01-17-2014, 9:41 AM Reply   
The original post on the thread is really good. Pay close attention to #4,#5, if you fear what a drowning person might do.
Old     (srock)      Join Date: Mar 2002       01-21-2014, 6:53 AM Reply   
Great post. Its so easy to get sucked out in a rip current where I live and it does not take much for the little ones. Lets face it, if you see a child in trouble you are not going be a spectator.

My wife takes the kids to the beach and will swim at life-guarded areas but sometimes they are off. In the future I'm going to have her take something; life jacket, throw-able or make sure the boogie boards are on each trip....its so simple when you are packing stuff anyway.
Old     (GavinJohnston1)      Join Date: Jul 2012       01-21-2014, 10:43 AM Reply   
Really great and hope more read this. Would love to see a section dedicated to water safety.
Old     (QuickVR4)      Join Date: May 2012       01-21-2014, 1:34 PM Reply   
Experienced this first hand as well. Me and two other friends jumped off a bridge for fun, but my one friend wanted to do the shortest drop which was right in the middle of the lake. All three of us hit the water and were fine. It was not until 2-3 minutes after we hit the water that my friend started to freak out (had no idea he could not swim). Luckily I was the one to go for help and my friend who is practically twice my size stayed behind with the non-swimmer. I will never forget turning around only to see my non-swimmer friend with both hands on top of the other guys head holding himself above water. Luckily I made it to a boat and everyone was OK. In talking to him afterwards, he had no recollection of anything...especially trying to drown both of us with him. These posts read like an exact play-by-play...scary.
Old     (dbdb)      Join Date: Oct 2005       05-22-2015, 5:17 PM Reply   
Thought this would be a good reminder for everyone at the beginning of the season.
Old     (deuce)      Join Date: Mar 2002       05-24-2015, 5:20 PM Reply   
Excellent post, thank you!
Old     (srock)      Join Date: Mar 2002       05-26-2015, 7:21 AM Reply   
I'm glad you pulled this up. It was worth reading again.


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