Most of the time, drowning doesn’t look like drowning. In fact, someone can be in real trouble just feet from you and appear as though they are just treading water.
I can attest to this. We all have moments from when we were with our kids where, in one situation or another, we shudder at the thought of what could have happened. At a pool party one time when my older daughter was a swimmer, but not yet a strong swimmer, I was busy at the side of a pool having my younger daughter jump off the side into my arms. My older one was going down the slide and splashing in about 4 feet from me…within arm’s length or just beyond.
At one point, she came down, and appeared fine, and my attention switched back to the younger one for a moment. Just a moment later, I either heard my older one say, “Daddy” in what sounded like a laboured voice, or perhaps I looked back her way – the interval had been maybe 5 – 8 seconds.
She was struggling, and I guess she’d said my name when she was able to get her mouth clear of the water surface. I had been keeping a very close eye on her, but the timing worked against us…or maybe for us…at that moment. I can’t even think about what could have happened…
New stats show that the incidence of young children drowning is three times higher in Manitoba than anywhere else in Canada.
Now that the kids are getting out of school, we’re just coming into the most dangerous time of all, and the thing is, you might be looking right at a child (or adult) who is dying, and it might not look like it; it might just look like they are treading water. The easiest way to find out is to ask, “Are you ok?” If they answer, they’re probably ok. If you just get a blank look…you might only have 30 seconds to get to them before it’s too late.
Here are the signs to look for:
- 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
More detail on what all of that looks like is HERE.