One of our recent posts covered the surprisingly high number of children who drown in swimming pool accidents in the United States. Drowning accidents kill nearly 400 kids every year. In light of this danger, it is important for supervising adults to keep a close eye on small kids whenever they are near water.
This raises the question: can we trust supervising adults to know what to look for? The answer, according to some experts, is probably not.
Contrary to many popular depictions of drowning, experts warn that observers should not expect splashing or yelling for help. Instead, the body’s response to drowning (known as Instinctive Drowning Response or IDR) is actually surprisingly quiet and calm. For starters, swimmers in distress cannot yell for help because they cannot pull enough air into their lungs to vocalize any kind of sound.
An equally chilling result of IDR is that struggling swimmers do not wave or splash for help. IDR causes victims to press their arms onto the water’s surface while staying upright.
The combination of both of these factors means that it is often hard spot a drowning risk until it is too late. This does not mean that supervising adults are absolved from liability-but it probably does demonstrate why these responsible parties have such a big obligation to keep an eye on kids before a swimming accident does occur.
Source: Slate, “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning,” Mario Vittone, June 4, 2013