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How To Recognize & Prevent Drowning | Amoils.com

Added June 10, 2013, Under: Children's Health, Environment, Exercise, Health

Professional swimmer in the pool. Summer sunny day

I subscribe to many natural and other health newsletters and blogs and, top of the popular subjects in the last couple of weeks has been drowning.

Learn to know what to look out for in such a situation, the most important point being that most will not recognize when someone is actually drowning.

It is almost always a deceptively quiet event

Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D, called it The Instinctive Drowning Response and it is what adults and children do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. The opposite of what you might expect – there is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind.

Of course, some people in water who are in trouble will be able to shout for help and thrash about but, unless someone comes to their aid and preferably a qualified life saver, this situation can easily change.

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between 1 and 4 years old. And it’s the third leading cause of death among children.

Drowning does not usually look like drowning

Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine emphasizes these 5 important points:

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. When 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 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 people in danger of drowning can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submission occurs.”  

That sentence bears repeating…

Those in danger of drowning can only struggle on the surface of the water for 20-60 seconds before submersion occurs.

There are other signs of drowning to keep an eye out for whenever people are in the water (whatever their age):

  • Is their head low in the water with the mouth at water level?
  • Is their head tilted back with the mouth open?
  • Are their eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus?
  • Are their eyes closed?
  • Is their hair over their forehead or eyes?
  • Are they not using their legs – the body in a vertical position?
  • Are they hyperventilating or gasping?
  • Are they trying to swim in one direction but just not making any headway?
  • Are they trying to roll over onto their back?
  • Do they appear to be climbing an invisible ladder?

Dry drowning is something else to worry about

Dry drownings occur when water, that is swallowed, pools in the bottom of the lungs so that a person can drown when he or she is out of the water.

Remember these 5 tips to avoid dry drowning:

  • Teaching a child to keep their mouth closed and plug their nose when they are under water will help to prevent them from swallowing water.
  • Setting limits because extreme fatigue is considered a sign that a dry drowning can occur within twenty-four hours of participating in a water sport.   By setting limits on the amount of time children are in water can help to prevent dry drownings by ensuring that they aren’t overly tired while they are in the water.
  • Taking regular breaks.  For example, if you are spending more than two hours participating in water activities, take at least a fifteen minute break every two hours. Use this time to have a snack and drink water. Children may swallow water when they are swimming if they are thirsty.
  • Paying attention as being vigilant when your child is swimming can prevent dry drowning, as well as other water-related injuries. Always watch to ensure that your child isn’t swallowing water or trying to breathe under the water, at the same time making sure that your child is fully alert.
  • Getting your child to cough. When liquids go down the wind pipe, a person’s body coughs in response to the irritation of the fluid. Sometimes, this response fails. Once your child gets out of the water for the day, encourage him to cough every 15 to 20 minutes. If you notice a lot of fluid coming up with the coughs, contact your child’s doctor.

Lifesaving

I have always had an interest in lifesaving. As well as serving the community, it is actually a popular sport in places such as South Africa, Australia and of course California. My son was a keen participant from the age of 8 years with my husband helping to train young lifesavers too.  Lifesaving is a great way to help others while keeping fit and enjoying yourself.  Once trained, there are plenty of job opportunities for life guards too.

The wonderful health benefits of swimming

Swimming is a great workout because you need to move your whole body against the resistance of the water. Swimming helps with all round exercise, including the heart, lungs and muscles, but with very little joint strain making it perfect for those suffering from arthritis.

It conditions the whole body and the best strokes for this are freestyle, breast stroke and backstroke. And don’t forget that even if laps are not your forte, there are plenty of other good swimming exercises. Try walking or running in water, which many people find easier to do than on land. Treading can be exhausting but it will help tone your legs and arms.  There are at least 10 other health benefits of swimming which you can read about in our earlier post here.

Be safe, be vigilant and enjoy the water!

 

Sources:

How to Prevent Dry Drowning | eHow http://www.ehow.com/how_2384519_prevent-dry-drowning.html#ixzz2VqDjMWlZ

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/family/2013/06/rescuing_drowning_children_how_to_know_when_someone_is_in_trouble_in_the.html

 

 

 

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