PSA: Drowning does NOT look like it does in the movies

This is a sad story, but I hope in sharing it that somebody's life can be saved.

My father was out on his boat this weekend, and on his way back to the dock, he saw a jet ski with no rider, and a man in the water not far from it with no life jacket. He didn't look like he was in any kind of trouble; he was not shouting for help or struggling or anything like that, so my father assumed he just jumped in the water to cool off. My father says he was no more than 50 feet from the guy as he went by.

My father went back out to his boat yesterday to make some repair before taking my brother and his friends out to see fireworks. They were dredging for the jet ski man's body. My father is beating himself up over this because he could have saved this man's life if only he had realized he was in trouble. He expected somebody drowning to look like they do in the movies.

One of the key signs that somebody is drowning is that they DON'T look like they do in the movies. They're not thrashing around or calling for help or struggling. This article describes what drowning DOES look like: http://gcaptain.com/drowning/?10981

 1) Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. Th e respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs. 2) 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 of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water. 3) Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe. 4) 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. 5) 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.
And here are some tips on exactly what to look for, from the same article:

 Head low in the water, mouth at water level Head tilted back with mouth open Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus Eyes closed Hair over forehead or eyes Not using legs – Vertical Hyperventilating or gasping Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway Trying to roll over on the back Ladder climb, rarely out of the water. So if a crew member falls overboard and every looks O.K. – don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them: “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are. If they return a blank stare – you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.
I hope the opportunity for you to use this information never happens, but if it does, I hope this saves a life.
 PhysOrg.com science news on PhysOrg.com >> Leading 3-D printer firms to merge in $403M deal (Update)>> LA to give every student an iPad;$30M order>> CIA faulted for choosing Amazon over IBM on cloud contract
 Mentor Blog Entries: 1 What a tragic story, I hope your dad knows it's not his fault. I'm definitely going to keep this in mind and mention it whenever the topic comes up.
 Thank you, I didn't know this.

Recognitions:
Homework Help

PSA: Drowning does NOT look like it does in the movies

There are too many things the movies and TV shows get wrong to mention. Some of them are dangerous: for example, they routinely shock flatlines on medical shows. Medical students (and even junior doctors!) have actually got the wrong idea after having watched this and attempted this practice on real, live patients.

It's not just crazy stunts that need disclaimers, it seems.

Mentor
Blog Entries: 1
 Quote by Curious3141 There are too many things the movies and TV shows get wrong to mention. Some of them are dangerous: for example, they routinely shock flatlines on medical shows. Medical students (and even junior doctors!) have actually got the wrong idea after having watched this and attempted this practice on real, live patients. It's not just crazy stunts that need disclaimers, it seems.
I definitely agree with this last statement. That and there should be some sort of movement to encourage better accuracy in medical, life saving and survival programs especially. That way if a popular show about doctors/lifeguards/mountain climbers heads off the rails it wont misinform dangerously.

For fans of house there's an entire site dedicated to it's mistakes on an episode by episode basis. http://www.politedissent.com/house_pd.html
 the tv series macgyver was to bend the truth a bit. However producers put a good spin on it saying they didnt want kids to imitate the macgyver tricks so steps and some ingredients were intentionally left out. The Numb3rs series also bent the truth a bit as they would add in the math component after the story was defined meaning the math didnt always fit well with the story. Some years ago there was a show on where they actually performed a drowning to show people what the signs were using a professional rescue swimmer in a swimming pool. Lastly, here's more info on drowning: http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/loc...-it-does-on-tv

Recognitions:
Homework Help
 Quote by Ryan_m_b For fans of house there's an entire site dedicated to it's mistakes on an episode by episode basis. http://www.politedissent.com/house_pd.html
I'm a fan of House, and yes, I've posted comments on numerous episodes (not under this nick, though).
 Recognitions: Gold Member Wow, I had know idea. Thanks so much for posting this story. I had know idea and would have assumed the chaotic movie scenario, exactly like your father had. Very unfortunate, I hope your father's guilt eases.

Mentor
 Quote by nitsuj Wow, I had know idea. Thanks so much for posting this story. I had know idea and would have assumed the chaotic movie scenario, exactly like your father had. Very unfortunate, I hope your father's guilt eases.
I agree, it's very good information. I guess I've never really thought about how to recognize a drowning person.

Recognitions:
Gold Member
 Quote by lisab I agree, it's very good information. I guess I've never really thought about how to recognize a drowning person.
Where I live (Ottawa) there are many areas along the Ottawa River that people frequent (including vacationers). The river has many dangerous areas that drown even experienced swimmers.

Just this past weekend two 20 somethings drowned. I think I may email the local papers regarding the "Signs of drowning". I never read that in all of the reporting done of such incidents as mentioned above.

That story has a lesson in itself as well. It is suspected one drowned will trying to save the other. Not surprisingly, the person drowning inadvertently can easily drown the one trying to do the "rescue".

Fighting for ones life, the adrenaline ect I can see how this could happen. (Pulling the "rescuer" down while trying to keep them self above the water ect)
 Over here last year 22 deaths total attributed to drowning, This year already 40 from rivers to lakes to pools. The last one a six month old todler in a pool. And summer is not yet over.
 Mentor Blog Entries: 4 Excellent information, but we also shouldn't ignore the crucial first moments of distress before actual drowning where the person is flailing and calling out in distress either. Don't think that these people are not going to die because they can still move and call out.
 Thanks Jack. You're right. I never thought about how actual drowning looks. But of course it's right. This is a good thing for someone to know who is both a scuba diver and a sailor.
 Recognitions: Gold Member In Maine, early-summer drowning can be a very quiet experience. Fall into very cold water, can't breathe, and can't call for help. As a white-water enthusiast, I was be very mindful of any person who was in the river, even if they did not appear to be distressed. People in thermal shock can't call for help often, and they can get passive pretty quickly. I have used my throw-bag more times than I can remember.

 Quote by Evo Excellent information, but we also shouldn't ignore the crucial first moments of distress before actual drowning where the person is flailing and calling out in distress either. Don't think that these people are not going to die because they can still move and call out.
Agreed. He even addresses that in the article. People who do that will then end up in the state that I described. But not everybody goes through that flailing and calling out period.

The article says:
 This doesn’t mean that a person that is yelling for help and thrashing isn’t in real trouble – they are experience aquatic distress. Not always present before the instinctive drowning response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long – but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in there own rescue.

Mentor
Blog Entries: 4
 Quote by Jack21222 Agreed. He even addresses that in the article. People who do that will then end up in the state that I described. But not everybody goes through that flailing and calling out period. The article says:
I guess I'm afraid because I have a phobia of getting water in my face. I could quickly drown. I cannot swim if water hits my face, a couple of seconds of thrashing and I'd start drowning.

I guess that it's a really tough call. What harm is it to ask anyone if they need help?"
 Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor Staff Emeritus I looked up the exact same topic a few days ago and was shocked by that same message "drowning doesn't look like it does in the movies". I had always assumed it would be clear when someone is drowning, but clearly it isn't. The reason I looked up drowning is that there was a case in the news of a 11-year old boy drowning before his mother's eyes. He was swimming after a floating device when he disappeared in the water. The mother immediately tried to recover the boy, but they didn't find him until over an hour later. I was amazed that it could happen so quickly and that so little could be done, I never realized that drowning could be such a unnoticeable event.

 Similar discussions for: PSA: Drowning does NOT look like it does in the movies Thread Forum Replies Differential Geometry 0 Advanced Physics Homework 6 Introductory Physics Homework 14 Introductory Physics Homework 1