Pierce & Shows, APLC

Drowning looks different than you may think

Summer is here and many of us will take our families to beat the heat swimming at the pool or at the beach. Getting in the water is a terrific form of exercise and an excellent way to cool down, but it presents its own set of risks, especially for kids.


Danger in the water

Nearly 20 percent of drowning victims are under the age of 14, and drowning is the second leading cause of death from unintentional injury for those between the ages of one to 14.

Even those who survive near-drowning experiences can face lasting injuries. Half of all people treated for drowning in emergency rooms require further hospitalization, and non-fatal drowning incidents can result in severe brain damage that includes cognitive impairment, loss of memory, learning disorders and more.

Risk factors for drowning include the following:

  • Lack of swimming ability
  • Swimming in open water – like lakes, oceans and rivers
  • Pools without proper protective barriers
  • Failure to wear life jackets
  • Lack of supervision
  • Alcohol
  • Seizure disorders

Identify drowning

The media often portrays drowning as a dramatic event with splashing, yelling and struggling. But in reality, the signs of drowning are much subtler.

By the time someone begins to drown, they often have difficulty staying afloat and cannot shout for help. A person drowning may have their arms in front of themselves or to the side, attempting to paddle to the surface and stay above water.

Drowning happens quickly, too. Children can drown within 20 seconds, and it takes adolescents about a minute. By the time you notice someone is drowning, you only have a few moments to act.


Though drowning happens fast, there are measures you can take to prevent it from happening. The following are helpful tips to keep everyone safe in the water:

  • Closely monitor your children and other vulnerable people, even if there’s a lifeguard on duty
  • Get your children age-appropriate swimming lessons
  • Insist that those who can’t swim wear life jackets
  • Learn CPR and first aid
  • Swim with your children

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