Drowning Doesn’t Look or Sound Like You Think it Does
You may not be a lifeguard, but you may, on occasion, monitor other people in the water—perhaps your kids, or other people’s kids, or even the elderly. You are a good swimmer, and are confident you could help someone in need, especially in a smaller pool.
But would you know when to help someone? Would you actually be able to recognize the signs of drowning?
Flailing and Splashing
You would probably look for someone who is flailing in the water—they would be splashing, frantically waving their arms, or screaming out for help.
Except, they likely would not—because drowning does not actually look like what you think it looks like, which is why it is so easy for people to drown in pools, even when there are others around to assist them. By the time anybody recognizes someone is drowning, it is often too late.
There may not be any splashing, when someone is in trouble in the water. In many cases, the victim’s arms are under the water, paddling frantically to try to keep them afloat. And because their arms are under the water and struggling, they aren’t able to grab a ledge or a floating object nearby—don’t assume that because there are objects to grab onto nearby, that the person in the water must be OK.
A common reaction when struggling in the water is to close your eyes. Again—this can make it impossible for a victim to even see if there is a ledge or something else nearby, to grab onto.
Drowning can be surprisingly silent. That’s because someone drowning is holding their breath, or trying to take breaths when they can get them. They don’t have the energy to scream out, and don’t want to waste the breath to scream out.
They may even be holding their breath, in an attempt to not ingest water, or to try to keep longer hair out of their mouth. They may have already ingested water, making it impossible for them to say anything, even if they wanted to or could otherwise do so.
Some people may even roll over on their backs, to keep their mouths above water. Visually, this doesn’t look like a position of drowning, but it is.
Be Alert and Ask
This means that people monitoring pools or swimmers, cannot just rely on what they hear—eyes, and visual observation are vital. And too much quiet can be as much a warning sign as excessive noise or splashing.
If you have a question about whether someone is OK, just ask. As a general rule, if someone can say that they are OK, or they respond to your questions, they are probably OK. And remember that younger children drowning can often sound like playing-only your full attention can tell the difference, and allow you to respond on time.
Injured In or around a pool? We can help you determine who may be liable. Call our Boston personal injury lawyers at The Law Office of Joseph Linnehan, Jr. today at 617-275-4200 for help.