On this blog, water safety is obviously a big topic. We take drowning very seriously, which is why this week we’ll be discussing what happens when you drown.
Drowning is a Danger to Everyone
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, drowning is a leading cause of death in children. In fact, just in the United States, more children aged four and under die from drowning than any other cause of death, barring birth defects. For those kids who are fourteen and under, drowning is still quite a serious danger. In fact, it is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes. Beyond these grim statistics, plenty of adults die from drowning each year as well.
Believe it or not, many adults and children report that they are either unable to swim or are simply weak swimmers. That said, drowning can happen to even the most experienced swimmers.
Before we discuss what happens when you drown, it is important to remember the seriousness of water danger. Above all, a false sense of security can prove fatal when it comes to taking a dip.
What Happens When You Drown?
That brings us to our primary question: what happens when you drown? Essentially, drowning occurs when the body is submerged in water (or other liquid) to a point where the person begins to suffocate.
At this point, the victim often gets water in their lungs. Another possibility is that the vocal chords seize and spasm, which technically stops water from getting to the lungs… but also stops air. In both cases, the body is being deprived of oxygen. Oxygen is vitally important for our organs, especially the brain. Without precious air, serious and potentially fatal damage will occur.
Does drowning have to be fatal? Not necessarily. In fact, nearly four times as many drowning victims are hospitalized for non-fatal drowning as die from drowning. In the past, nonfatal drowning was commonly described as near drowning.
One of the best skills a person can learn is how to recognize the signs of drowning
. Unlike what we are often shown in movies and television, drowning is rarely very loud. The idea of someone thrashing wildly or screaming is usually just Hollywood fiction.
In actuality, drowning is often surprisingly quiet. What happens when you drown is actually that you struggle and silently slip under the water. Unfortunately, you may not have the wherewithal or ability to call for help. Depending on a number of factors, including age and body type, drowning can begin within just a few minutes.
A doctor can diagnose drowning by measuring the amount of oxygen in the victim’s blood. Additionally, some x-rays can help to reveal the extent of lung damage caused by drowning. Cold water shock and hyperthermia are also a possibility, so a doctor will also check body temperature.
Swimming Lessons and Competency
Now that you know what happens when you drown, how can it be prevented? Fortunately, there are a number of ways to keep yourself safe. First and foremost, swimming lessons can be a lifesaver. Understanding basic swimming competency should be a crucial step for anyone setting foot near water. These lessons are available to people of any age group. It is never too late to learn how to swim.
Install a Pool Fence and Alarms
Next, consider fortifying your home pool or hot tub area. Many drowning incidents happen at home. To help prevent this, we encourage people to install layers of protection. A strong, properly installed mesh pool fence should be tall enough to prevent children from accessing the pool area. In addition, the windows and doors of your house should be properly locked to prevent little ones from wandering outside and getting into trouble.
Finally, another great help comes in the form of alarms. These can be worn on a child or pet, and can be attached to the pool fence or even to the doors and windows of the home. When the alarm goes off, it should be loud enough to alert the entire house to potential danger.