Although the Hollywood theatrics of drowning make for great blockbuster movies, they can often deceive us about the reality of these events. It is important to be aware of the true symptoms and signs of drowning because many of them deviate from what we think they look like.
Here are six silent but deadly indications of drowning that you should be aware of this summer.
There is a very common misconception that drowning is a loud and violent act, marked by thrashing limbs and cries for help. However, in all likelihood, a victim of drowning will remain silent because water is filling up their lungs and they do not have enough time to shout or make noise.
Despite the deceptive silence of this event, it is obviously very terrifying for the victim. They might not be yelling for help or splashing their arms in the water, but you will notice a panicked look on their faces.
Someone who is drowning will usually hold their face near the top of the water, tilting their heads back to allow their mouths to be at the same level as or above the water. Their heads will also be bobbing up and down as they gasp for air.
Vertical in the water
Drowning people have very little physiological control over their bodies. They remain vertical in the water and usually do not kick their legs. The average length of struggle above the surface of the water is between 20 to 60 seconds before submersion begins to occur.
Lack of arm movement
Because most bodily activity is involuntary during drowning, victims cannot wave for help, reach toward a piece of rescue equipment, or swim towards a rescuer. Their arms will most likely be still.
Although we typically associate drowning with trips to the pool and beach, this potentially fatal situation can also happen on land.
Secondary or “dry” drowning occurs when a person seems fine after getting out of a body of water but begins to show symptoms later on. These include vomiting, coughing, irritability, extreme fatigue, and fever.
If you notice someone exhibiting these symptoms after swimming, dial an emergency number like 911 immediately.
Drowning can be preventable. Always make sure to:
- Be within arms’ reach of small children
- Be aware of who is in the water and keep an eye on them periodically
- Not swim alone
- Pay attention and look out for symptoms of dry drowning after swimming