Saturday, July 10, 2010

Another Scare Where Media Has Misled Us

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for kids under the age of 15 and the half drown within 25 yards of an adult or parent.While dogs kill 30 adults and children a year, approximately 750 children under the age of 15 will drown this year. Water is sometimes taken seriously but often treated as a benign entity - it's all around us. Dogs are too, but they manage to abstain from killing 750 of our children annually.

When you think of a person drowning, what is the iconic image that comes to mind? Splashing, waving arms, screaming, violent attempt to grab attention.

This is what we see on television. It is absolutely false.

If you become distressed in water, you retain a modicum of control over your bodily functions. You can scream. You can wave your arms frantically. You can kick in the water as well. It's called aquatic distress and while it should be taken seriously, it is not actual drowning.

Drowning is silent. Your ability to control movement diminishes. In fact, there's a term for it called the Instinctive Drowning Response. Things you cannot do when the instinctive drowning response kicks in?
* You cannot speak - you are too busy trying to take in air
* You cannot wave for help - your arms instinctively stretch out in an attempt to keep you above water
* You cannot swim or move towards rescuers - your body remains vertical

When a person enters the instinctive drowning response, you have less than 60 seconds to help.


Public service announcement bit: "Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning.  They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck.  One  way to be sure?  Ask them: “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are.  If they return  a blank stare – you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them.  And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why."

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