With summer drawing close, Californians are looking forward to the prospect of spending more time in the water. From public pools to the Pacific Ocean, swimming offers Californians incredible exercise, relief from the heat and a fun activity for those kids on summer break. However, more people in the water means a higher risk of drowning.

The signs of drowning are not as easy to identify as movies or television may make one think. More often, drowning occurs silently, especially among children. As families return to the beaches and pools with the onset of summer, watching for signs of drowning can help save lives.

5 signs of drowning

Many believe those drowning will flail dramatically and identify their danger, but this is rarely the case. Most drowning victims display an Instinctive Drowning Response. Identifying these behaviors is key to taking life-saving action.

These five tips can help people recognize drowning:

  1. No calls for help: The respiratory system’s primary function is breathing, speech is secondary. Without oxygen, a voice box will not form words, preventing potential victims from calling for aid.
  2. Bobbing up and down: A person’s bobs up and down in the water while drowning, their mouth unable to pull in enough oxygen for its brief moments above water. A drowning person will appear to inhale and exhale quickly before sinking again.
  3. Cannot signal help: Instinct causes a drowning person’s arms to extend their arms out and press down on the surface of the water. This involuntary action makes it easier for a drowning person to grab a needed breath.
  4. Unclear movements: Drowning people may appear to be swimming in a direction, but making little headway. Others may look like they are climbing an invisible ladder or trying to roll onto their back. Some may appear to stay upright in the water with no evident struggle.
  5. Glassy or obscured eyes: A person’s eyes may appear glassy or unfocused and may be a sign of shock. If their hair has fallen over their eyes and they do not move to clear their vision, they may have little control over their limbs and need assistance.

Protections for the family

Nearly ten people die every day due to drowning in the United States, with 20% of all victims under age 14. Understanding how to spot drowning can help Californians save lives and enjoy the beautiful summer in safety.