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Let’s talk about something serious for a minute – signs or drowning and second drowning. We all want the best for our kids as parents and work our hardest to give them life essential skills. Swimming is one of those skills since we want our children to have fun yet we know crucial it is to be safe while swimming or even splashing in the water with friends. It is also very important to be vigilant of others and make sure that people that surround us are safe as well.
A few years ago my friend and I went to the public pool. Each of us with two kids. While we paid close attention to the younger children, the older ones always stayed in our eyesight. At some point, I realized that my friend was walking out of the water with her 2-year old and I automatically turned around back to the pool to find her older one, who had to be around five as I assumed that I now have to watch after three kids. Quickly scanned the surface of the pool I didn’t see him. With only a few people in the pool, I looked again. The only child I saw in the pool seemed to have a lot of fun on the deep end splashing in the water.
The lifeguard seems calm as well. My first thought was that maybe the 5-year old walked out of the pool with him, yet I decided to get closer the kid splashing in the deep end. As I got closer to him, I saw the lifeguard staring at the boy as well, and suddenly I realized that this was indeed my friend’s fun, but he wasn’t having fun – he was fighting to stay above the water in complete silence with a lifeguard only a couple of yards away and more people in the pool. The boy was fighting for his life in a plain sight surrounded by people and what he could do is ask for help. He was only a few strokes away from me and was safe with his mom only a minute later, but this was the day I realized that everything we know about drowning is wrong!
Learn to Recognize the Signs of Drowning
There’s no yelling. You breathe and talk with your mouth, but you can only do one or the other at the same time. When you’re drowning, you are either screaming or breathing, and that’s why drowning is often silent.
There’s no desperate waving. While drowning, you use all your energy to stay afloat. Would you stop paddling to raise your hands and wave? You will sink!
Look for “ladder” kicks. Ladder kicks look like climbing in the water. When someone is trying their hardest to move in the water but just not getting anywhere, he might be drowning.
Look for the blank stare. When in distress, a person shuts out all surrounding distractions to focus on saving his life. If someone is drowning, you’ll notice a blank or glassy stare even if everything else seems alright.
Look if their mouth is at (or below) water level. If a person is drowning his mouth might be very close to the water level or even under water.
What to Do When Someone May Be Drowning
- Ask if a person is ok. If you don’t hear a verbal response, the person might be in trouble.
- Call 911.
- If you are close enough, try grabbing the child. If you are too far, let the guard know right away.
What is Second Drowning?
You’ve probably also heard about something called “second drowning.” It is uncommon, but second drowning is when water gets into the lungs. That is why it is imperative for anyone after near drowning experience to get proper medical attention. One of the first symptoms of the second drowning is persistent and increasingly labored coughing. You might also notice a child being sleepier than usual or a little “foggy.” In both of these case – seek medical attention
Learn more about staying safe in the water in our article:
Read this before letting your child swim on his own: