Monday, July 05, 2010

This stunned me

I've been in and around water my entire life; years on swim teams, splashing in three oceans, countless lakes, and many rivers.

This article about drowning floored me. Please read it. Please remember it.

45 comments:

Jen J. Danna said...

Janet, thank you for posting this article. It was all new to me and, as a mother of two, this could be crucial information to have.

Sharon Kirk Clifton said...

This shocked me as well, so much so, in fact, that I posted it to my Facebook page. As soon as I saw your update on my blog list, I wondered, Is she referring to the same article I saw and posted? I'm going to a water park tomorrow with my grandchildren and their parents. You can bet I'll share the info with them.

Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I almost drowned when I was a kid, and nobody would help until I finally made it to shore and passed out. They "knew" I wasn't in danger because I didn't scream or wave my arms. Everybody needs to read this.

Marjorie said...

Thank-you for posting this. It is quite timely. A student from a NYC school drowned at a LI beach a week ago. There was no lifeguard on duty. Maybe the other students or teacher did not recognize the drowning signs.

In a side note, I was a teacher for 35 years. The beach was the last place I would ever consider for a class trip. Correction. It was not the last place. It was never a place I would consider for a trip.

If a first year teacher cannot control her class in the classroom... how brain dead do you have to be to go on a class field trip to the beach?

A. Grey said...

That article is terrifying! I have to say though, that I saved a girl from drowning once and it was the most quiet, unassuming incident you can imagine. Three of us were swimming out to a pontoon boat, which unbeknownst to us was actively floating farther and farther away. The first girl was on a swim team and I'd been swimming for years, but our friend wasn't nearly as strong. She just sort of dropped back, and then started treading water. I swam back and although she said she was fine, she didn't look it at all. She looked like a trauma victim in shock. I just thought she was exhausted and I convinced her to float on her back with ME treading water and holding her, while the adults brought the boat around. At the time I thought I was being fat-headed and macho. I found out afterwards that our parents had ALREADY dialed 911 to report a drowning and then aborted the call when they saw me abate the situation. TERRIFYING that I helped a girl and didn't see how truly serious it was WHILE I WAS RIGHT BESIDE HER.

Emily White said...

Thanks for posting this. When I was about seven years old, I started drowning at a friend's birthday party. There were maybe fifteen kids in the pool with me with numerous parents just standing around. No one knew I was drowning because every time I managed to bring my head up to the surface for a second, I just fell right back down. Eventually, I was able to grab hold of the side of the pool (it was one of those full size soft side pools) and bend it down far enough to fall out.

It's terrifying, and everyone should know what to look for.

Thanks again!

maybe genius said...

I had no idea, either, and I've been on swim teams since the age of 5! I'm so glad I read that.

Katt said...

Thanks for pointing this out!
Years ago, I was trying to rescue a 3yrold child who had fallen into the pool beside me. Two adults were within ten feet of us and as I pushed the kid toward the side, they saw him and pulled him out while I went under twice and nearly drowned. Their backs were turned looking after the little boy and nobody ever noticed that I was clinging to the side trying to get air.

myimaginaryblog said...

I meant to say in both cases. (I hate not being able to fix typos in comments.)

myimaginaryblog said...

I saw this the other day, too, and want to share it with everyone I know. My brother almost drowned as a kid and, come to think of it, he was vertical like this, and my husband had a near-drowning incident and I think he describes being upright in the water, too. In both those adults noticed their distress just in time. In both cases there were also lots of other adults around who hadn't noticed it.

atsiko said...

Scary but not shocking. When I was younger, I did some white-water rafting. Many rivers have something called a "swimmer's rapid", where they let you out of the boat so you can float through it. Sounds like great fun, right?

But the waves were pretty high on this one. I was lucky that the rapid was short, because even though I had a life-jacket on, I couldn't keep above water. Now, that's easier than drowning in still water or low waves, but the article describes almost exactly what happened, as far as how my body reacted. You just cannot make noise, your body is too busy.

D.G. Hudson said...

You do us all a service by posting this type of information. Thanks, Janet. The more we know, the more we can do to help prevent such a tragedy.

My mother nearly drowned when she was younger, so I've always been super cautious with our kids anywhere near the ocean or pools.

Stephanie said...

I read this the other day. I never knew it either.

Anne-Marie said...

Wow. As a lifelong swimmer, I had no idea. Thanks for sharing. I will never forget this. Also, as a teacher, I agree: never take swimming field trips. The risk is too big.

XX
AM

ali said...

An excellent article ~ thanks so much for sharing.

rissawrites said...

My sister was supposed to watch my five-year-old son while I took her daughter to the bathroom last year at the pool. He can't swim.

I heard him scream and ran back to the pool. He had gone under right in front of her, and she let him stay under. She thought he was playing. Dhe finally realized he was drowning and pulled him out.

He didn't make a sound until he was safe. I signed him up for swim lessons this year, but he was so terrified from that experience they didn't go well. I still want to kill her.

Always keep your eye on your kids in the water. Just being near them isn't enough!

Sheri Strong said...

That's an eye opener! I've been swimming all my life, but this article shows why we need to respect the power of the ocean. (As well as lakes, pools etc.)

IsaiahC said...

Bravo! My wife is taking our two girls to the beach in a month. I'm forcing her to read, re-read, and write an essay on this information. :) Who knows, maybe you'll save a life with this one.

KO said...

frightening and so timely.
thanks.

Richard Lewis said...

Surfers in Bali (where I live) frequently pull beach-going tourists out of rip currents. The waves look fun and friendly, but even small ones push water shoreward, a volume that needs to go back out somewhere. Many tourists have never been around the ocean, and they don't recognize the signs of a current, and within seconds can be in water over their heads. Then they panic and start to drown...and like this article says, it is a silent process.

So for you beach goers, especially to those beaches that have surf, even if there are life guards on duty, pay attention to what the fun-looking waves are doing. You can easily spot a side-shore or rip current by how the foam and white water is running. If you're not a strong swimmer, or have children, stay away from this area.

JS said...

Thanks for signal-boosting that excellent article! It is such a clear presentation of vitally important information.

Richmond Writer said...

A. Toddler was supposed to sit on pool deck while I helped 3 yr old learn to swim. I turned and he was gone. I panicked and couldn't only scream oh and point as I drug 3 yr old through water to spot where toddler was at bottom of pool. Lifeguard not 10 ft between us just stared wondering why I was screaming OH! We were the only people at the pool. My son lived (my daughter too since I didn't let go of her). You don't have to be drowning to be speechless.

Cathy in AK said...

I just passed the link on to family and friends. Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention.

laughingwolf said...

a great eye-opener... thx janet

am passing this on

Suzi McGowen said...

One important thing that was left out of this article is that unless you are trained in how to rescue a drowning person, chances are quite high that they'll be pulling two bodies out of the water, not just one.

Please get CPR training and remember "Reach, Throw, Row, Go".

Amber J. Gardner said...

This brought back a strange memory of mine. I was around five years old and was at the beach. I remember the water pulling me out and I knew I was in trouble, because I couldn't move. I remember just watching the shore where my mother was, my eyes near the surface of the water, feeling powerless, unable to call for help or do anything.

But my mom must have noticed something was off cause he walked over and picked me out of the water (whenever I think back, I keep thinking how lame that was since the water couldn't have been higher than her thighs).

I never understood why I felt like that -- unable to move -- but I think this finally explains it.

Thanks for sharing!

Bianca said...

Thank you so much, Janet! I'm on the swim team myself and I didn't know this! At least, not to this extent.

Ellen said...

Shocking, chilling and vitally important. I'm going to repost.

Thank you so much for this.

Dave said...

That piece was chilling. I find it incredible that we didn't know about this before.

I wonder: In evolutionary terms, we've only been back in the water for a nanosecond. Maybe there simply hasn't been enough time for the evolution of a survival response to drowning.

Just compare the (uniquely quiet?) drowning response to, say, getting a piece of chicken bone stuck in your throat. You'd go ballistic trying to clear your airways.

Red Boot Pearl said...

wow, I too have been in/around water my whole life, this is a good reality check.

DG said...

Yikes! Great article.

As Clint Eastwood says in Magnum Force, "A man's got to know his limitations.

Dave said...

I'm still astonished by this. Thanks for flagging it.

It's frightening to think that someone who's drowning can respond quietly and passively. (A. Grey, 2:02 PM, illustrates the danger of this lack of drama perfectly.)

These lines are from the end of the article: And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.

They should be put up on a big sign everywhere people swim.

Natasha Fondren said...

Another thing to remember: it happens in water kids can STAND in. When I was a lifeguard, every kid but one was drowning in shallow water they could stand in, but didn't know it.

Jaleh D said...

That's some incredibly scary yet valuable information. I've got a little boy, who I hope never has to experience a near drowning incident let alone anything worse, but I will be passing this information along to increase the odds that there will people around him to recognize the real signs in case he does.

And if I ever write a drowning scene in a story, I'll be sure to describe it accurately.

lovedfromthestart said...

This is so true. I almost drowned when I was little and didn't know how to swim yet -- twice. The first time was in the ocean and luckily someone saved me. The second time was in the swimming pool with fully functional lifeguards around and no one noticed. I was, ironically, learning how to swim as well. They thought I was just bobbing up and down inside the water.

Laurie Lamb said...

Once I had to pull my son above the water's surface. He was on tiptoe right beside my husband. His mouth and nose were underwater and his eyes were wide and frightened. I was across the pool with my other son. My husband was very surprised and denied my son was drowning. Good thing once a lifeguard, always a lifeguard.

NINA NAKAYAMA said...

Wow, living on an island and just starting to have my son learn to swim, this hit me hard. Thanks for posting this. I'm sending to all the parents I know...

Jon VanZile said...

I very nearly drowned when I was a child ... it's actually one of my first memories. I was on the side of the pool, kneeling over and trying to reach the bottom of a 10-foot-deep pool with a 3-foot stick when I slipped in.

I've described the event countless times over the years, but until I read this article, I had literally no idea that what I was describing was a typical reaction to drowning. I always thought my experience was strange, or atypical, because I didn't thrash or make any noise at all. I didn't struggle or kick. I just struggled weakly and sunk.

I remember the first breath I took underwater. It was reflexive, and it burned. I don't remember anything after that, but apparently my brother—who was less than 20 feet away when I went into the pool—turned around and saw me at the bottom. He jumped in and pulled me out, then pushed the water from my lungs. I was probably a minute away, or less, from brain damage or death.

Thanks so much for posting this.

Stephanie Barr said...

Like Jon VanZile, I nearly drowned at the age of one, lying quietly in a pool only one foot deep.

I learned something and will remember it as much children charge into summer and swimming.

CKHB said...

I took a lifeguard training course and worked as a lifeguard for a number of summers (high school to college years), and this was *never explained to me*. I figured it out only after a girl in my pool got in trouble in the deep end... and the only reason I was aware enough to help was that her parents had TOLD ME that she couldn't swim and needed to stay in the shallow end. She didn't look like she was in trouble at all, but she had slid down the pool's incline into the wrong area, so I investigated purely because I didn't want to get in trouble with her parents for letting her stay there. TERRIFYING to realize she was in real danger.

And then just last week I had a very scary experience and sure enough, people who were watching me just thought I was goofing around, holding my daughter over my head. In fact, I'd been swimming with my daughter in the deep end, we got hit by a wave when someone big cannonballed into the pool near us, and I was desperately trying to keep HER head above water, at the expense of my own, as long as possible. Cannonball guy fortunately finally grabbed my girl so I could let myself sink enough to reach bottom and push back up to surface level and the nearby shallow end.

Mim said...

I must say thank you for posting this. My three year old waded out too deep in the pool yesterday. I got to him in seconds before he got scared, but he looked exactly like what they described. If I hadn't read this article this week, it would have been an entirely different experience for him. No screaming, just bobbing up and down with his arms stretched out.

So thanks.

Robert Dean said...

Drowning is a terrifying way to die.

maine character said...

Thanks so much for posting this.

I never knew the signs, and yet I've been there - it was only because I was swimming towards my brother to an island, with him watching me, that he yelled, "Do you need help?" And I couldn't answer. It felt like a huge soggy mattress on me, and more people sitting on it every second. He yelled again and then came for me.

I haven't gone swimming over my head since, and that was twenty-five years ago.

Posey said...

As a parent of six... THANKS. I caught this post via twitter, as my google reader has been messed up, and I now follow gcaptian. Lot's of good posts.

So, I got myself educated and a new blog to follow. :)

J E Cousineau said...

Mario is a friend of mine, so when I say this I laughed. He always had a way of getting people's attention. Its a great article from a good man who has served in the Coast Guard saving people's lives as a rescue swimmer for more years than its polite to mention. He knows whereof he speaks.