Friday, August 10, 2012

Would you know if someone was drowining next to you?

As the swimming portion of the summer Olympics come to a close I marvel at the dedication these young people have devoted to their sport and the grace, speed, and beauty they have developed with their rigorous training. 

In my younger years I was a competitive swimmer.  I didn’t swim because I loved swimming I swam because I loved the comradery of the other swimmers.  I concentrated on swimming fast and training hard so I could stay on the team and compete in the four person relays.  My reward was when we won we could collectively share the prize. 

I learned to swim at a young age and really don’t remember ever needing a life jacket for safety, I was always a strong swimmer.  I remember swimming across Chenango Lake during the summers and thinking nothing of it only to turn around and swimming back without a rest.  One time a new kid decided to join us, his name is Tim.   We started across the lake and we were about one quarter of the way across and he started bobbing.  I waited for him to stop clowning around and rejoin our group  but he didn’t stop.  Feeling frustrated because the other kids were ahead of us I went over to him and lifted him by his arm pits and started to ask him what he was doing when it was apparent he was in desperate trouble.  I got him calmed down, which was quite difficult as I recall  and got him back to the shore.  Tim was drowning, I was 5 feet away from him and didn’t realize it. 

When we got back to the beach he thanked me over and over telling me how desperate he felt and he just couldn’t catch his breath enough to ask for help or even call out.  He always hailed me as saving his life.  I didn’t believe him at first because it didn’t look like the stories I had heard of the victim yelling and thrashing about.  He was just going under without a fight, or so it appeared to me.

I would like to share with you what drowning looks like to the observer that is not trained.  The Olympics show us what it looks like to excel in the water this link will demonstrate what to watch for and how easy it is for the drowning victim to lose the battle and quickly.  Here are two examples to start you off the message is short and powerful.  Click here

1.      Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
2.      From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

I hope these tips prove helpful to you or someone you love. 

God Bless,
Director of Member Services and Smiles
OurHealth Co-op, Inc

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