Ocean Safety 101: Six Signs of Quiet Drowning

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“When you are drowning, you do not say ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,’…you just scream.” –John Lennon

As the Philippines is teeming with many beach resorts, being out in the ocean can be a fun summer frolic for the entire family. But an afternoon of delight and enjoyment can turn incredibly sinister if family members and relatives are not adequately mindful of each other while being in the water—this is especially true for children. Drowning is an incredibly insidious tragedy at the beach, but it happens more often than not.

The reality is that drowning is quiet and most of the time it even goes unnoticed. In most cases, drowning casualties occur in the presence of an adult or teenage supervision which suggests that the person had a momentary lapse of attention. Apart from this, those supervising may be unaware of what to look for because drowning hardly seems like drowning. To potentially ward off a misfortune such as this, it is best to be prepared. Here are some cardinal signs of when someone is in trouble.

1.) They cannot call for help

When drowning occurs, our survival instincts would tell us to breathe before we can speak. Mainly when a person is drowning, he or she must be able to draw in some air before they can call out for help. As the mouth sinks below and reappears above the surface of the water at a rapidly irregular rhythm, a drowning person does not have enough time to inhale and exhale much less, scream for help.

2.) Waving is not an option either

A drowning person’s first instinct is to extend their arms to the sides and presses down to lift their mouths of the water. Similarly, a child may extend her arms forward instead of extending them upward. In essence, a drowning child cannot use his or her arms to move towards a rescuer or reach for a rescue equipment.

3.) Their head is low in the water

A drowning person will have his or her mouth at water level. In some cases, the head may even be tilted back with the mouth hanging open while a child’s head may fall forwards.

4.) They remain upright in the water

Drowning is deceptively quick. At the most, it only affords a rescuer sixty seconds of time upon discovery. There is no evidence of kicking either. A drowning person may only struggle for about twenty to sixty seconds before getting exhausted and getting submerged in seawater.

5.) They are unusually quiet

Remember, children in the beach would make a lot of noise. When everything gets too quiet, it is a reason for you to worry and get suspicious. Let this serve as a reminder whenever you are on the beach: When children are quiet, you get to them and find out why.

6.) They do not look like they are in any distress.

One very crucial thing to keep in mind when someone is drowning is that it may not look like they are drowning at all. They may look like they are just looking up at the shore, the sky or anything else. If you suspect that one is drowning, always ask “Are you all right?” or “Is everything okay?”. If they can manage to answer at all, they are probably fine. If you get no reply and receive a blank glassy stare, you approximately have less than thirty seconds to get to them.

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