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Recognize What Drowning Really Looks Like

In the heat of the summer, swimming pools see lots of action—and with all of the extra activity, it’s important to keep track of who’s playing in the water and who might be in distress. Would you recognize the real signs of drowning if you heard them? Surprisingly, it’s not the dramatic scene you’ve seen on television, with the screaming for help accompanied by splashing around. In fact, studies show that one in ten drowning deaths occurred within 25 yards or less of people who could have helped save the victim. Learn the real signs and you could save a life, let alone a claim on your Miami homeowners insurance policy.

Drowning precludes talking. In almost all cases, a person who is drowning is physically unable to call for help. Speech can only occur when someone has the breath to verbalize. Before people are in the involuntary stages of drowning they’re considered in “aquatic distress,” and at that point may be able to call out for help if they possess enough energy and oxygen.

Drowning people can’t voluntarily control their arm movements. The body’s response forces people to naturally extend their arms outward, pressing on the water’s surface in an attempt to gain enough leverage to force their mouths into the air to gasp for breath. Further, victims who are struggling on the water’s surface can’t “stop” drowning in order to make coordinated, voluntary moves such as waving for help, moving toward the pool’s edge or a would-be rescuer, or reaching out to grab a life preserver.

Drowning happens fast. People can only struggle on the water’s surface for 20 to 60 seconds before they sink below the water.

The bottom line—keep a close eye on swimmers at all times, and in no circumstances allow children to swim unsupervised. And remember, people can go from aquatic distress to drowning without a sound. Practice CPR, keep lifesaving equipment nearby, and of course, make sure your Miami homeowners insurance policy and other coverage are equipped to offer protection from the liability that swimming pools present.