Recognizing the Silent Signs of Drowning: Essential Summer Safety Tips for Moms

As we transition into the heat of summer, fun times with the kids often revolve around swimming. However, alongside the excitement of pool days comes the critical need to be vigilant about drowning risks. Each year, 350 children under the age of five drown in pools nationwide. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children under five, following motor vehicle accidents. In Sunbelt states like California, Florida, and Arizona, it is the leading cause of accidental death in this age group.

The Shocking Truth About Drowning
What’s even more disturbing is that around 50% of these drownings occur within 25 yards of a parent or adult. Alarmingly, in 10% of cases, the adult is watching the child drown without realizing it. This misconception arises because drowning doesn’t look like the dramatic, thrashing scenes we see on TV.

What Does Drowning Really Look Like?
Here are the subtle and often silent signs of drowning every parent should know:

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 position
Hyperventilating or gasping
Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
Trying to roll over on the back
Appearing to climb an invisible ladder

Contrary to popular belief, a drowning person may look like they are just treading water. To be sure, ask them, “Are you alright?” If they can answer, they are likely okay. If there is no response, you may have less than 30 seconds to save them. Remember, kids make noise in the water; if they become quiet, get to them immediately to find out why.

Understanding the Instinctive Drowning Response
Here are some crucial facts about the Instinctive Drowning Response that every parent should be aware of:

Unable to Call for Help: Except in rare circumstances, drowning people cannot call out for help because they cannot breathe.

Mouth Submerging and Reappearing: A drowning person’s mouth alternately sinks below and reappears above the surface of the water.

Inability to Wave for Help: Nature instinctively forces drowning people to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface to lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.

Involuntary Arm Movements: Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements.

Upright Position with No Kicking: Drowning people remain upright in the water without evidence of a supporting kick. They can only struggle on the surface for 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs unless rescued by a trained lifeguard.

Stay Vigilant and Safe This Summer
As we enjoy the summer and make plans for pool and beach days, let’s stay informed and vigilant to keep our loved ones safe. Understanding the real signs of drowning and responding quickly can make all the difference. For Birmingham parents, ensuring a fun and safe swimming experience for your kids is just a little knowledge away.

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