Preventing Drowning Accidents
How to Respond to & Spot Potential Drowning Victims
Most people think they would recognize a drowning victim. While drowning is often portrayed as a dramatic event in movies and television, it's a little more subtle in reality. Real drowning victims can even go completely unnoticed in the crowded environment of a pool or beach.
According to statistics, about 750 children drown in accidents every swimming season—within 25 yards of an adult in nearly half these incidents. When adults and other individuals cannot recognize the signs of drowning, a child in need of help may be overlooked. With an average of 10 drowning victims a day, learning how to spot drowning kids is crucial. The attorneys at Arnold & Itkin are here to keep you informed.
What Is the Instinctive Drowning Response?
Splashy displays. Yells for help. These are not part of the Instinctive Drowning Response. Learning the signs of this reaction can help you save the life of a drowning victim. After all, most drowning accidents are preventable.
There are three main types of victims in these situations:
- Distressed Swimmer – Shows signs of anxiety or panic, struggling but keeping head above water, may call, splash around, or wave for help still at this point.
- Active Drowning Victim – Just before submersion and unconsciousness; can’t stay above the surface and may have head thrown back with face upward, arms flapping at side, but unable to call for help.
- Passive Drowning Victim – Unconscious or below water, immersed and most likely not breathing with face in water, extremely urgent condition.
A distressed swimmer is often the type of individual personified in the movies, while an active drowning victim is limited to being spotted through their facial expressions and quiet struggle. Once a swimmer is an active drowning victim, they typically become submerged in less than a minute.
Recognizing an Active Drowning Victim
To be able to speak or call out, a person must be able to breathe. If someone is not able to breathe, his or her voice will also, logically, not work. The mouth of a person who is drowning sinks below the surface of the water, preventing him or her from safely breathing. Even though he or she may surface temporarily, a drowning victim does not have sufficient time to exhale, inhale, and call for help.
Drowning victims also don’t typically wave for help. If a person is drowning, the body's natural instincts kick in, causing the victim to extend his or her arms laterally and press down on the surface of the water. This action propels the body upwards and allow the victim to breathe.
Other Common Signs of Drowning
A drowning victim may also display the following signs:
- Does not respond to the question "Are you alright?"
- Head is low in the water and mouth is at water level
- Head is tilted back with an open mouth
- Eyes are unable to focus or are closed
- Hair is covering the victim's forehead or eyes
- Not using his or her legs
- Hyperventilating or gasping
- Seems to be swimming without making any progress
- Tries to roll onto his or her back
- Moves as if climbing an invisible ladder
Time Is Critical in Drowning Accidents
Once a person begins drowning, he or she must be rescued in 20 to 60 seconds. This is as long as the body is able to remain upright in the water. In the case of young children, they may struggle for even less time before their body is worn out and emergency rescue is required. Delayed rescue times can result in serious injuries or even death. Sometimes drowning accidents are tragic accidents, but other times, improper supervision by child care providers, lack of life guards, or other forms of negligence cause tragic harm.
If your loved one was the victim of a drowning accident, the compassionate attorneys at Arnold & Itkin can help you navigate the complex laws involved in these cases. Contact us at (888) 493-1629.