Drowning doesn't look like drowning


Since i’ll probably be talking about swimming a lot in the future, whether in the pool or open water, I thought it wise to share this fantastic article  by Mario Vittone, formerly of the US Coastguard, on what a person who is drowning really looks like.  Forget the screaming, flailing arms of the movies, this is much more subtle (though if someone is screaming and flailing – get help!).

The full article can be found here: http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/ , but here is a quick excerpt from it on signs to look for:

  • 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
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder.

Reading this actually shocked me because it made me think how easy it could be to miss someone in real trouble.  Watch the video on the Instinctive Drowning Response that is contained on the web page – scary, isn’t it?

I hope I never see anyone like this when i’m out swimming, but at least now I’ve got a better idea of what to look for.

Safe swimming everyone….


2 thoughts on “Drowning doesn't look like drowning

  1. Hello Stranger! Not sure how I found this blog but couldn’t help but have a wee read. Having just read this this poem sprang to mind:

    Stevie Smith – Not Waving But Drowning

    It always makes me smile (in an odd way)…


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