April 17, 2024
Annapolis, US 58 F

Drowning: How to Save a Life

Drowning Evolve Medical, Maryland's Direct Primary Care, provides the highest rated primary care and urgent care to Annapolis, Edgewater, Davidsonville, Crownsville, Severna Park, Arnold, Gambrills, Crofton, Waugh Chapel, Stevensville, Pasadena and Glen Burnie.


Save A Life!

Would you recognize drowning if it happened right in front of you? Sadly, 50% of all children who drowned had a parent or another adult within 25 yards. And in 10% of the cases, the adult was literally watching the child drown, unaware of their child’s impending death.

The common myths that we all believe, and which keep us from seeing that our child is drowning are what make drowning the #2 cause of accidental death for kids under 15 years old.

Summer is here and the pools are open. Evolve Medical wants to make sure that YOU know what drowning looks like so you can save the life of a child–possibly even your own. 

Why is it So Hard to Spot Drowning? 

Because drowning doesn’t look like drowning. It is silent, they do not wave and they are not floating face down.  By the time they are floating face down, it is often too late. 

What Does Drowning Look Like?

According to the Coast Guard’s On Scene magazine, the Instinctive Drowning Response like this:

“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.

  1. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water.  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.
  2. Drowning victims cannot wave for help. People will instinctively extend their arms to their sides and press down on the water’s surface. 
  3. Someone drowning is not able to control their arm movements. Drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water simply cannot stop perform any voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  4. The person will have their body upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. From beginning until the end.

Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, drowning people can only struggle on the surface for 20 to 60 seconds before they go under permanently. 

This doesn’t mean that a person thrashing and yelling for help isn’t in real trouble—they are experiencing aquatic distress, and aquatic distress doesn’t last long before entering the drowning phase. 

Look for These Signs of Drowning:

  • 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
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder

The most important rule to remember is that children swimming in a pool make a lot of noise. If you see a child who looks very quiet, particularly with any of the above signs, just ask them, “Are you alright?” If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them.

Want to get a better understanding, watch this very well done video in a 2013 Slate article.

How Big is the Problem?

From 2005-2009, there were an average of 3,533 fatal unintentional drownings per year in the US. That averages to 10 deaths per day. That number doesn’t include an additional 347 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.

About 1 in 5 people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five have to go to the ER.  Those 4 out of 5 kids that survive face potentially severe brain damage. Their long-term disabilities can include memory problems, learning disabilities, and even permanent vegetative states.

Tips to Prevent Drowning

The CDC’s publishes a water safety article titled “Unintentional Drowning.” The full article is linked and summarized below. Evolve has narrowed this down to 9 easy tips. 

  1. Designate a supervising adult. Watch young children while in the bath and all children swimming or playing in or around water
  2. Touch Distance. The designated supervisor should be within touch of preschoolers (close enough to actually touch the child at all times.
  3. Supervising adult can not be distracted. Remember that drowning occurs quickly and quietly! Adults should not be involved in any other activity (including using a cell phone).
  4. Use the Buddy System. Always swim with a buddy. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.
  5. Learn to Swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when children are in the water.
  6. Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
  7. Do not use air-filled or foam toys instead of life jackets. Examples include “water wings”, “noodles”, or inner-tubes.
  8. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing
  9. Do not let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out and drown.

If you have a home pool, these 2 additional tips:

  1. Install Four-Sided Fencing. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of reach of children.
  2. Clear the Pool and Deck of Toys. Young kids can get tempted to enter the pool area unsupervised.

For More information

 Learn CPR!

Red Cross can help you find local certification classes: Click here.

Anne Arundel Community College Courses in CPR: Click here.

If you have any questions we are happy to help.  Evolve Medical is also happy to see you. Same day scheduling on-line here or call 844-322-4222. Or email them at [email protected].

If you find these health and wellness updates helpful, follow Evolve Medical on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+.

Evolve Medical, Maryland's First Direct Primary Care, provides the highest rated Primary Care and Urgent Care, serving Annapolis, Edgewater, Davidsonville, Crownsville, Severna Park, Arnold, Millersville, Gambrills, Crofton, Bowie, Stevensville, Pasadena and Glen Burnie.
Evolve Medical, Maryland’s First Direct Primary Care, provides the highest rated Primary Care and Urgent Care, serving Annapolis, Edgewater, Davidsonville, Crownsville, Severna Park, Arnold, Millersville, Gambrills, Crofton, Bowie, Stevensville, Pasadena and Glen Burnie.
Previous Article

Arundel Mills welcomes Under Armour Factory House

Next Article

Red Red Wine Bar and DRY 85 opening two new locations in Ocean City this fall

You might be interested in …