Drowning looks almost nothing like the dramatic scenes we see in movies or TV shows. In reality, its a quiet struggle near the surface of water that happens in under one minute, and it’s easy to miss spotting the deadly situation in time.
An average of 10 people drown every day according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. There’s almost never any splashing, waving, or shouts for help.
Drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system prioritises breathing, and speech is secondary — the body needs to breathe before it can speak.
Computer programmer Francisco Saldaña built an interactive educational game called Spot the Drowning Child to help users learn to spot someone who’s at risk of drowning. The videos Saldaña used to create the game are part of a training program in Charleston county aimed at preventing drownings.
Here’s what one of those videos looks like. Can you spot which child is in need to help?
According to coast guard experts, here are some signs to look for:
1. A drowning person’s arms will extend laterally and push down against the water to try and propel their body back up to the surface. There’s no kicking motion.
2. There’s no dramatic splashing of any kind — a person will bob up and down, with their mouth even bobbing above and below the surface. Their body will remain upright.
Here’s what a lifeguard would see in that image above:
Right now drowning is the number two cause of accidental death in children (just behind car accidents), and often it happens within 75 feet of their parent or guardian.
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