Whether it is a dry or wet drowning, it is still a drowning nonetheless. The difference between the two types of drowning depends on the point when the laryngospasm occurs. The point of this article is to do everything possible to prevent a drowning. We have already seen far too many drowning cases in this region, and the season is just beginning. I may come across as a bit blunt, but my desire is to save lives.
Children drown because of a lack of parental or guardian supervision. A drowning can occur in a moment, and can also occur quietly. Imagine this; you are distracted, having a conversation with your friend, while your child is drowning behind your back. If you take your child to a pool, lifeguard present or not, you must be prepared to watch your child 100 percent of the time. The lifeguard is not your babysitter. The more crowded the pool is, the more important it is to keep a close eye on your child.
Swimming lessons are not fail proof, but go a long ways toward people being able to possibly prevent themselves from getting in trouble. There are many organizations that provide swimming lessons throughout our area. Many drowning cases have occurred because a person could not swim.
Alcohol and water activities do not mix. As unpopular as you may find this, there have been tragic boating accidents, diving accidents and drowning cases that have been attributed to those involved having alcohol in their system. Alcohol does many things to the body that put a person in jeopardy when they are around water. One of my worst cases, when I was on the job, occurred in the middle of the night, when an intoxicated person dove into the shallow end of a swimming pool, striking their head on the bottom and fracturing their cervical spine; the person did not survive.
What should you do if you see a person in trouble in the water? The easy answer is throw, tow, row and then go. If at all possible, throw something to the person. Going to a person could prove life threatening for you and the person that is drowning. It takes extensive training to be qualified to perform water rescues, whether in a pool, a pond, the river or the ocean. If a lifeguard is on duty, you can summon them. An immediate call to 9-1-1 gets trained first responders on the way quickly. Keep in mind, depending on the time of the year, most drowning cases in this area occur in cold water. A cold-water victim will be worked on up to an hour after the drowning. An important piece here is that if you see a person drown, it is important to communicate to first responders the last-seen point, in other words, where was the last location that you saw the person before they went under? Attempt to triangulate their position, noting where you were, and two other points. For instance, I was standing on the shore, and the person went out of site about midway out, between the green marker and the holly tree. The more information the better.
I love the water as much as you do. No one sets out to be a drowning victim, but we must prepare ourselves for anything. We searched for two fishermen that set out in calm conditions one Friday many years ago, in the Pamlico Sound. On this particular day, conditions would go from dead calm to 40 mph winds and 12-15 foot seas in the sound.
These fishermen were in a johnboat. We were in a 44-foot motor lifeboat and were taking a beating. We found the two fishermen’s bodies, three days later with their life jackets on. Heed weather warnings and know your limitations.