Summer Safety: Recognizing Signs Of Drowning

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Flailing arms, screams for help, splashing and kicking – it is the Hollywood representation of a drowning swimmer, but that image is far from reality.

So what does drowning really look like?

Carole Forbes is Director of Aquatics at the Heart of the Valley YMCA, she described the signs like this:

  • A person’s body will be straight up and down
  • Their head will be slightly out of the water, with their mouth or nose often dipping below the surface,
  • They will use their arms to push down, in an attempt to elevate their bodies above the water
  • They often will not make any noise, as their primary goal will be to get air into their lungs

Forbes describes drowning as an often quiet and quick process. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death. In the United States, a quarter of all drownings occur with people nearby.

This is why Forbes tells parents and guardians to always keep their eyes on their child swimmers.

“I tell them not to be on the phone, not be distracted, not to be cooking looking through a window or talking to friends,” said Forbes.

The best way to prevent drowning is to always be within arms reach, and aware, of the young swimmer. Invest is swim lessons, take CPR and first aid courses, and do not count on store-bought, flimsy water-wings or foam noodles to serve as proper safety devices. Forbes encourages swimmers to never swim alone.