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How to Identify Drowning in Real Life

Drowning typically does not look like it does in the movies. The signs of a drowning person (especially a child) are not nearly as dramatic or obvious. Here are some tips to identify a drowning person in real life.

1. Look for a glassy and far off stare. A drowning person will not be staring directly at anything, but will look unfocused.

2. Notice the quietness. Drowning people do not call for help. People calling for help are in aquatic distress, a step away from drowning where they can still save themselves. An actual drowning person is using every moment above water to breathe. Noticing quietness is especially important for children, who are typically very loud in the water.

3. Drowning looks like someone treading water. Keep an eye out for someone with their arms lateral, and body vertical, with no forward motion. Drowning people do not have the ability to make voluntary actions so you will not see them flailing around trying to get your attention. 

Drowning in real life is a quiet and calm incident. It is important to make the distinction between what drowning looks like in the movies and what it looks like in real life. 


Supervise at All Times Around Water

Supervise your kids at all times when they are around or in the water. Don't assume that just because your child took swimming lessons or is using a flotation device such as an inner tube or inflatable raft that there's no drowning risk.

If you're at a party, it's especially easy to become distracted, so designate an adult who will be responsible for watching the children.