Common Misperceptions About the Signs That a Person is Drowning
If you are like many individuals, you harbor some understandable although incorrect ideas about what to look for when a person maybe in the midst of drowning in a swimming pool or other body of water. Oftentimes, misperceptions about signs a person is in drowning distress stems from how this type of aquatic emergency is portrayed in film or on television – in a very dramatic manner. The stark reality is that many individuals drown without people in their immediate vicinity realizing that they are in life threatening danger.
We address a number of the more commonplace misperceptions about signs an individual may be drowning that include:
- It is Easy to Identify a Drowning Person
- Drowning People Yell for Help
- A Drowning Person Looks Panicked
An overarching misperception about the signs of drowning is that it is easy to identify an individual in this type of life-threatening distress. While there are certain behaviors that can indicate someone might be in trouble and in the midst of drowning, signs are not always visible from a distance or obvious enough for bystanders to notice them quickly enough to take lifesaving action. Moreover, the other misperceptions harbored by many if not most people about the signs of drowning render them unaware of what they really should be looking for to identify timely this type of emergency. (As an aside, accurate information about the true signs of drowning are presented for your consideration and use later in this article.)
One of the most common misconceptions about drowning is that those who are in trouble will yell for help or wave their arms above the water. In actuality, many victims of drowning cannot actually call out for help due to having their airways blocked with water and becoming unconscious quickly. This can be especially true when a person is in a swimming pool and unable to reach the edge without assistance.
Another misconception is that someone who is struggling in the water will look panicked or desperate while they are trying to stay afloat and breathe. This isn’t always the case, however, as some people in this situation may not show any outward signs of distress at all. The person may even appear relaxed. This does not necessarily mean they are not struggling to keep themselves afloat, as will be discussed in a moment.
What Drowning Typically Looks Like
The American Red Cross is one of the premier organizations in the United States that provides different types of water safety and lifesaving training. The organization provides some basic information you need to have in order to have a better understanding of what drowning actually looks like in most cases.
According to the American Red Cross, some – but, definitely not all – people in drowning distress will have a matter of several seconds to wave or even call out for assistance. It is vital to stress that not all swimmers will be able to do this. Drowning has the very real potential for being a silent death for a good many people, according to the American Red Cross.
"When you can't breathe, you don't have the breath to shout for help," says Linda Quan, M.D., a pediatric emergency physician and professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
The American Red Cross advises that:
- An actively drowning individual may have only a few seconds before slipping underneath the water.
- An actively drowning person usually will be in a vertical position in the water.
- The arms of an actively drowning person typically are extended to the sides or in front of the individual.
- Any movement being made by a drowning victim would be seen as an effort to push downward to life that individual above the waterline.
- In most instances, a drowning older child or adult will find his or head just above the waterline and tilted back slightly, according to the American Red Cross Lifeguarding Manual.
- Infants and toddlers are not able to maintain this position, so their noses and mouths usually are quickly under water.
Protect Your Legal Rights Following a Drowning Accident
If you have been injured in a drowning accident, or if you have lost a family member in a fatal drowning accident, contact The Doan Law Firm at (800) 349-0000 any time of the day or night. As a nationwide law firm, we can schedule a no-cost and no-obligation initial consultation with an experienced lawyer at any one of our 40 offices located across the United States. We can also arrange a virtual consultation with an attorney online as well.
The Doan Law Firm makes an attorney fee pledge to you. We never charge an attorney fee unless we win your case for you.
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