How to Prevent Drowning This Summer…
Even if You’re a Great Swimmer
You’ll Be Shocked at How Much You DON’T Know About Water Safety
We all watched helplessly as the news reported the strange disappearance of Naya Rivera (the great and cruel Santana on Glee). Recovery efforts have still not found her and she is presumed drowned, leaving behind a four-year-old son. The scary part is that Naya was a strong swimmer and experienced boater (or at least it’s been reported that she’s taken boats out on her own before) so what happened??
But I’m a Great Swimmer…
Although it’s usually children we hear about that drown, you’d be shocked at how many adults (including strong swimmers) die annually by drowning. Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, with an estimated 320 000 annual drowning deaths worldwide. Sure, some of those are children, but many are adults. And sure, some of those victims couldn’t swim, but let’s look at the reason you could very easily drown even if you’re a great swimmer. First, strong swimmers are more confident and therefore more willing to take risks. Second, any time you’re swimming in open water there is a much higher risk of accidents and drowning because of the drop-offs, rip currents, and undergrowth. The waters are often murky, making it far easier to lose your bearings if you’re under the water. Third, serious swimmers almost always go into the water with less supervision that a novice.
Drowning Risk Factors
· Swimming Alone
· Alcohol Use
· Night Swimming
· Swimming in Open Water
· No Lifeguards
· No Life Jackets
· Boating (sometimes people go under and resurface under the boat, smacking their head and passing out underwater)
What Does Drowning Look Like?
Contrary to popular belief (and Hollywood…), drowning is not a flailing of the arms, screaming and thrashing in the water for several seconds. Unfortunately, because the human body is designed to breathe in and out, there is not enough time to get your lungs full enough of air to scream before you lose control. Additionally, our instincts are to press down on water, not wave up in the air. Pressing down, though, does no good to save yourself. Before you know it, you’re worn out from fighting and most of the fight is under water, where no one can see even if they are around.
So, What are the Best Ways to Prevent Drowning?
1. Take a water safety course
2. Get CPR certified so you can be of help to others just in case someone you’re with is pulled from the water
3. ALWAYS, ALWAYS wear a life jacket in open water (even in a boat)
4. Pay attention to any warning signs (They’re up for a reason!!!!)
5. Do not swim in icy cold water. People can go into “cold shock” when immersed in cold water
6. Don’t go into the water (or boating) alone
7. Keep an eye on children
8. Do NOT swim while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
How to Survive if You’re Drowning
FIRST: Take a deep breath and relax. Float in the water with only the back of your head and hands above the water
SECOND: When you’re ready for a new breath of air, push down on the water with your hands until your mouth is above the water
THIRD: Repeat every 10-15 seconds as necessary
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW BEFORE YOU TRY TO HELP SOMEONE WHO IS DROWNING
Panicking victims WILL try to grab you, thus, increasing your risk of both of you drowning BIG TIME! Again…Know that a drowning person will (by no fault of their own) very likely try to drown you amidst their panic.
OK, so how do you help them?
Find an object like a pole, raft, rope, or long branch that they can grab onto from where you’re at (ideally, the shore). If you must jump in, grab that object first so they can still hold onto that while you pull them to shore.
LAST THINGS TO CONSIDER:
· DROWNING IS SILENT (MOST OF THE TIME) AND NOT LIKE YOU SEE IN MOVIES
· DROWNING CAN HAPPEN IN 20-60 SECONDS
· DROWNING IS 100% PREVENTABLE
· BE SMART—DON’T SWIM UNDER THE INFLUENCE, DON’T SWIM ALONE OR AT NIGHT, AND WEAR A LIFE JACKET IN OPEN WATER
None of this is meant to scare you or keep you from having an epic summer, full of swimming, jet skiing, boating, and more. It’s just some information to keep you safe. Remember…
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!