Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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How to tell if someone is drowning

Apparently, not only does the media give us all an incorrect idea about what happens to cars that crash into things, but also a dangerously incorrect idea about what people look like when they’re drowning.

I don’t swim very often, I don’t have kids, and I’m probably less likely than lots of you to encounter someone who is drowning. But since the summer is warming up — well, not here, we’re actually quite chilly right now — but basically the summer must be warming up in lots of other places, and no doubt someday we’ll get sunshine here, too. So I thought I would pass this along to you all.

People who are drowning apparently do not wave their arms, splash madly, and shout for help. They just quietly drown, often very close to their parents or friends, who don’t notice until it’s too late.

You should click through and read the whole article if you’re into water sports. But briefly, here is how it looks when someone is drowning:

Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

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.

I happened across the link at Harry Connely’s blog, btw.

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2 Comments How to tell if someone is drowning

  1. elaine t

    We learned with our daughter, in her tired years (undiagnosed health issues). Other people thought we were over-reacting or she was faking. Nope.

    Got sidetracked on Connolly’s site at the ‘when engineers own dogs’ link. That was one happy dachshund.

  2. Rachel

    Yes, very nice high-tech ball-throwing toy! Nicholas Dodman, a behaviorist at Tufts, also has a story in one of his books about an engineer whose dog had anxiety issues when he was gone. So he made a gizmo so that when the dog paced or whined, it would turn on and say, “Good girl, Fluffy! What a good girl! Lie down, Fluffy. Good girl!” Settled the dog right down. Engineers do sometimes have a step up on the rest of us.

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