Drowning Doesn’t Look Like You Think It Does

Friday, 27 May 2011
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Memorial to a drowned child

Mark Tozer posted a really excellent article about the actual signs and symptoms of what somebody looks like when they are drowning. In my head I always thought that the victim would be screaming for help and waving their arms. Clearly I was wrong.

[blockquote]Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.

Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly before their mouths start to sink below the surface again.

Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Doing this permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.[/blockquote]

You should really click through and read the full article over on Marks blog and read the whole fascinating story.

Photo credit: Memorial to a drowned child / Pip Wilson / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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