Many Children Drown Within Few Yards of Adult
Do you know what a drowning actually looks like?
Do you know that depictions of drownings on TV and in the movies are nothing like the real thing?
Oklahomans love water sports. Our state has more than 200 man-made lakes, more than any other state. Swimming, boating and skiing are huge here during the hot summer months. With water recreation so popular in the Sooner State, tell me if the following statistics and statements about drowning don’t give you a bit of a chill:
• Drowning is the No. 2 cause of accidental death in children 15 and under. About 750 children drown each year.
• About half of them drown within 25 yards of an adult.
• “In some of those drownings, the adult will actually watch the child do it, having no idea it is happening.”
• “Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. … There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind.”
The above information and quotations are from Mario Vittone, a retired U.S. Coast Guardsman who is a trained rescue swimmer and an expert on drowning. In a recent article, Vittone pointed out the following information about drowning:
1. People who are drowning are unable to call for help. You can’t cry out when you are struggling to breathe.
2. People who are drowning can’t wave for help, either. They are using their arms and hands to push down in their desperate struggle to rise above the water.
3. People who are drowning struggle for about 20 to 60 seconds before they go under for the last time.
Vittone offered these signs to look for to recognize people who may be drowning:
- Their mouth is at water level, bobbing above and below the surface.
- Their head is tilted back with their mouth open, struggling to breathe.
- They are gasping or hyperventilating.
- Their eyes may be closed.
- They appear to be climbing an invisible ladder.
Vittone’s advice if you see someone demonstrating any of these signs and you wonder if they are drowning: Ask them: “Are you all right?”
Far better to ask than to only wish you had.