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    Why Swimmers Drown

    Why Swimmers Drown

    Photo By Pamela Doty | By R.J. Garren read more read more



    Story by Pamela Doty 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Safety

    Before I retired, one of my responsibilities with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was to track statistics for all water-related fatalities on the more than 400 lakes and rivers managed by USACE nationwide. Often in natural waters (lakes, rivers, ponds, oceans, etc.) people who consider themselves good swimmers drown and almost all of them would have survived if they had been wearing a life jacket. So why should someone who thinks they can swim wear a life jacket and how can they drown?

    There are two common swimming activities that cause people who think they can swim to drown. One is someone trying to retrieve an object like a hat, an inflatable toy, or even a boat that’s drifting away. The chances are great that something will drift away faster and farther than you think, especially in natural-water situations. The other activity is the popular challenge from another swimmer to swim to something. Often people in both these situations simply overestimate their swimming abilities. If you’re not frequently swimming, your abilities are likely to decrease with age.

    Sometimes people who overestimate their swimming ability haven’t learned proper breathing techniques of inhaling and exhaling while swimming. Holding your breath too long while swimming or over breathing by taking several deep breaths in a row (hyperventilating) before a swim can cause shallow water blackout. Shallow water blackout causes people to faint or blackout in the water. A simple description of what makes that happen is that it’s the result of low oxygen to your brain. Interestingly, shallow water blackout often happens to people who know how to swim well, but they deny their bodies desire to inhale for too long. Once someone loses consciousness, the body reacts and water enters the lungs, causing drowning death, if not rescued immediately.

    Another reason people drown is because they become exhausted and panic. They may know how to float, but they don’t think about survival floating when they panic. People need to learn survival floating and practice it because it takes minimal energy and it can save your life if you become exhausted or exceed your swimming abilities. The problem with survival floating is that it can be challenging due to wave action or currents in natural waters so you have to practice in those conditions.

    Whether you think you can swim or not, always wearing a life jacket can save your life. The belt-type, inflatable life jacket that you manually inflate is perfect for swimmers in case they run out of energy. All you have to do when you need it is pull the cord, wait for it to inflate, and put it over your head. Before it’s inflated, you hardly know you have one on until you need it.

    Please share these reasons why swimmers drown with your loved ones. Encourage them to always wear the right life jacket for their particular activity in natural waters. Help us in our efforts to decrease the heartbreaking senseless losses to drowning that happen every day.



    Date Taken: 06.05.2018
    Date Posted: 06.05.2018 17:31
    Story ID: 279727
    Location: US

    Web Views: 1,566
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