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Summer Water Safety: 10 Silent Signs of Drowning

Whether in a pool or the ocean, swimming is one of the most treasured parts of summertime in California. But did you know that drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in children under the age of 10? Even more alarming is the fact that some 90 percent of these drownings occur while the child is in the presence of an adult. How can these statistics be true? If a child was drowning, wouldn’t it be obvious to the parents, the babysitter or the lifeguard?

The reality is that we’ve grown accustomed to a certain image of what drowning looks and sounds like. A lot of screaming, thrashing in the water and desperate gasps for air. The truth is that the signs of drowning are much subtler than the movies depict. They are so subtle that even a momentary lapse of attention can lead to tragedy. 

According to Olympic Gold medalist Summer Sanders, who is now ambassador for the USA Swimming Foundation, “There’s a big misconception that drowning is a large action…the truth is, most drownings are quite silent. You’re not going to hear your kids if there’s chaos in the pool.”

With pool season in full swing and the beaches crowded with young swimmers, it’s important to keep your kids safe around the water. Just because they know how to swim doesn’t mean they’re immune to danger. Here are 10 silent signs that someone may be fighting for their life.

10 silent signs someone is drowning

It takes less than one minute for a child to drown. These horrific accidents can occur in just a few inches of water, and toddlers are especially at risk. Constant vigilance is key when children are around water.

Be alert for these 10 quiet signs of drowning:

  1. Head is bobbing above and below the waterline
  2. The child cannot and does not call for help
  3. Head is tilted back, the mouth may be open
  4. Hair is covering the forehead
  5. Arms are not waving but held by the side or forward
  6. Eyes are closed or unfocused
  7. Child goes silent – no screams or noise
  8. Body remains vertical in the water
  9. No evidence of kicking or struggling
  10. No evidence of distress, appears like they are staring up at the sky

It takes less than 60 seconds for a drowning child to submerge beneath the water. When accompanying a child around water, remember how quickly a drowning can occur. If a child suddenly gets quiet, ask if they are doing alright. A drowning person will not be able to respond. Be prepared to act swiftly. Children have just precious seconds before submerging and survival rates hinge largely on the length of immersion.

Signs of dry drowning

Just because your little one hops out of the water doesn’t mean the danger is over. Though extremely rare, “dry drowning” can pose a serious risk of death hours later. When a child accidentally swallows small amounts of water (sometimes into the lungs), this can trigger vocal cord spasms that shut off air supply.

Symptoms of dry drowning can manifest just minutes after a water-incident, or several hours later. Be on the lookout for:

  • Difficulty breathing or shallow breathing
  • Persistent coughing
  • Sudden sleepiness
  • Vomiting
  • Unusual behavior

Prevention is crucial for summer water safety

Drownings can be prevented by taking extra precautions with children around water. To learn more about liability issues in drowning events or pool-related injuries, contact a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer at Ellis Law Firm today. Our skilled trial attorneys offer aggressive legal representation will fight tenaciously to protect your rights.

Call us toll-free at 1-800-INJURED.

Additional “Quiet Signs of Drowning” Resources:

  1. Parents.com, Dry Drowning: Know the Signs http://www.parents.com/kids/safety/outdoor/dry-drowning/
  2. NewsOK.com, Prevent Drowning: Keep swimmers of all ages safe this summer http://newsok.com/article/5549811
  3. Reader’s Digest, 8 Silent but Deadly Signs of Someone Drowning http://www.rd.com/advice/parenting/8-quiet-signs-of-someone-drowning/