Experts: Drownings often accompanied by sound of silence

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by CARLA WADE

Bio | Email | Follow: @CarlaNWade

WFAA

Posted on June 14, 2013 at 8:09 PM

DALLAS -- At Samuell Grand Pool Friday afternoon, you could hear the splash of the water, the giggles, the squeals of delight, but if one of the children in the pool were in danger of drowning, the sounds of summer would cease in less than a minute.

"They're not going to ask for help. And it takes 20-to-60 seconds to go from active to passive," said lifeguard Raul Robles.

It's called the instinctive drowning response. It's what people do to avoid suffocating underwater, and it is often very quiet when it happens. No screams or flailing arms.

"Other times they go under, just take a big breath of water - just a big mouth of water - and that's it,” Robles said.

Elena Ramsey learned to swim just last year at the pool where a free water safety education class was held Friday. The event, called Splash Day, is sponsored by the City of Dallas.

Ramsey wanted her children to begin swimming at an early age. Her oldest daughter started at two. Her five-year-old is just beginning.

"Anything can happen in the pool, and so I want them to be prepared and ready and just still have fun,” she said.

There are other signs of drowning, you may not immediately recognize, according to U.S. Coast Guard safety experts:
 

  • A swimmers head may be low in the water, but their mouth at water level
  • The head may be tilted back with mouth open
  • You may notice hyperventilating or gasping
  • Not using their legs
  • The body is often vertical and upright because the swimmer cannot control arm movements or reach for help as they try to avoid suffocation


Lifeguards look for these signs, and what they don't hear can be just as important when it comes to saving a life.

Robles recommends small children wear life jackets that are approved by the coast guard.

Besides providing swimming lessons for children, Robles recommends parents who will be near the water with their children take a CPR and basic first aid class.

E-mail cwade@wfaa.com

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