Could You Spot This Summer Beach Danger?

Date:14-06-2013 06:50:08 read:5
Category:Life Style-->Entertainment

Could you spot danger if you needed to?

Beachgoers beware: Drowning doesn’t look like you think it does.

“The Instinctive Drowning Response”—your body’s innate way of trying to keep your mouth above water—is much quieter and less violent than you’d expect, explains Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., who coined the term five decades ago.

See, many people have formed beliefs from TV shows and movies about what a drowning person looks like—namely kicking, splashing, and crying out for help. “But that’s a swimmer in distress who’s not actually drowning yet,” Dr. Pia says. “You need to have some kind of swimming skills to be able to make all of those motions.”

The person who’s truly drowning can’t swim or float (either because they don’t know how or they’re injured or compromised in some way). They don’t have the ability to use a supporting kick or tread water like a swimmer. In fact, you’re likely to swim right by a person who’s drowning because it doesn’t look like anything is happening, Dr. Pia says.

So what should you look for? Bobbing up and down with little noise can be a sign that something’s wrong, says Dr. Pia. That’s because “the person who’s drowning is pre-programmed to use their hands to press down on the surface of water so they can get their lips above water to breathe.” The water offers little resistance, so they bob. With barely enough time for a full breath, the drowning person is often silent—there’s rarely a chance to call for help.

If you see something that doesn’t look right, catch a lifeguard’s attention immediately, says Tom Gill, Deputy Chief of Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service. If there’s no lifeguard on duty, follow the standard lifesaving protocol of “Reach-Throw-Go,” he says. Reach from the shore or pool deck to help the person; throw anything that floats—a lifejacket, cooler or ball; and go in to help the person only if you’re an experienced swimmer.

    Ever For Health Copy Rights 2013