Suffocating in water

I found this article helpful. I will certainly keep it in mind at the pool this summer. The author distinguishes calling out for help and splashing about, called aquatic distress, from the reflex-driven response to suffocation, or drowning.

Drowning is not the violent, splashing call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew know what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life.

The Instinctive Drowning Response—so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect.

Our bodies have a standard response to suffocation that follows a recognizable pattern, but that also prevents the victim from exhaling large amounts of air to cry out for help. If you’ll be near the water for any amount of time this summer please read the whole article.

via Rescuing drowning children: How to know when someone is in trouble in the water. – Slate Magazine.