Could You Spot and Save a Person Drowning?

June 4, 2022


When you're at a beach or pool, would you be able to identify someone who's drowning and take action to save them?

"Even the most experienced swimmers can be in danger if the weather is bad, currents are strong or a medical emergency occurs in the water," said Dr. Gillian Schmitz, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). "Most drowning accidents are preventable, but it only takes seconds for a tragedy to occur."

On average, 11 people die in accidental drownings each day in the United States, and drowning is one of the leading causes of death among 1- to 4-year-olds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It can be difficult to determine whether someone is drowning, so ACEP outlined the signs:

  • Bobbing or floating in place
  • Head tilted back with mouth open.
  • Head low in the water, with mouth at water level.
  • Trying to roll over onto the back.
  • Hyperventilating or gasping for breath.
  • Hair over forehead or eyes.
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus, or eyes closed.

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