SUMMER is here- and where best to cool off from the summer heat than by plunging into the cool ocean?

A great day out for all families, a day on the beach and a muck about in the water is the most popular holiday activity for Brits.

We take safety seriously when it comes to our families; we ensure that they are smothered in the correct sun cream to ensure we protect the delicate skin of our little ones, and teach them of the danger of strangers… but when we let our children into the sea to swim, could we recognise if they were drowning?

When we think of someone drowning, the vast majority of us will think of what we have seen in the movies.  Arms flailing, gulping, shouting and splashing…  but in reality, drowning is the complete opposite.

There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea what is truly happening.

Drowning does not look like drowning.

Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. Breathing has to occur before speech. If a person cannot breathe, they cannot cry for help. When a frowning person’s mouth is above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.

Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface in an attempt to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.

From beginning to end of what is known as the ‘Instinctive Drowning Response’, people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs- this is even less for a child.

The below video shows a child drowning- and how to those close by, it looks like the child is just having a play in the water. It is worth a watch so that you can recognise what a drowning person looks like.

What are the other signs of drowning?

Other signs to look out for are:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.

As a side note- remember inflatable toys do not mean safety.  Children should be supervised at all times whilst they are in the water.  The below video from China went viral recently, as it shows how easily a child can get into trouble with an inflatable, and one many would deem to keep their child safe:

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