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Old 05-23-2014, 10:12 PM   #1
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Drowning.

I know, a gruesome subject, but it's worth pointing out that it's the second child-killer after car crashes. Do you make sure your child/grandchild wears a PDF on the docks, or do you think holding hands is adequate?

I stole this article from GCaptain and I'm sure they would be happy that I am disseminating it. It doesn't quite format, but you'll get the idea.

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning
BY MARIO VITTONE ON MAY 23, 2014



Drowning? Not exactly. Photo (c) Shutterstock/AntonSokolov
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on gCaptain in June 2010 and is reposted every Memorial Day Weekend by popular demand. Many thanks to the parents who have over the years shared this important information. Please Click HERE to share this article with your facebook friends.

By Mario Vittone

The new captain jumped from the cockpit, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the owners who were swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. “Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not ten feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”

How did this captain know, from fifty feet away, what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew knows what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life.

The Instinctive Drowning Response – so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC). Drowning does not look like drowning – Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine, described the instinctive drowning response like this:

Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. Th e respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs. (Source: On Scene Magazine: Fall 2006)
This doesn’t mean that a person that is yelling for help and thrashing isn’t in real trouble – they are experiencing aquatic distress. Not always present before the instinctive drowning response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long – but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in there own rescue. They can grab lifelines, throw rings, etc.

Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

Head low in the water, mouth at water level
Head tilted back with mouth open
Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
Eyes closed
Hair over forehead or eyes
Not using legs – Vertical
Hyperventilating or gasping
Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
Trying to roll over on the back
Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.
So if a crew member falls overboard and every looks O.K. – don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them: “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are. If they return a blank stare – you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.
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Old 05-24-2014, 12:52 AM   #2
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I had two cousins my age who went swimming in a public pool. One following the other and not noticing the other one not behind him. The second one was wearing a mask and water leaked in. Fortunately, the lifeguard saw him on the bottom of the pool, dove in, got him out and knew life saving techniques. The paramedics arrived in five minutes but said without the lifeguard's actions and knowledge he wouldn't have made it. Still it was mentally touch and go as his brain was significantly damaged. Fortunately, that turned out to be recoverable. Good swimmer, no warning.

Yes, it's a horrid subject but it's one we definitely need to all be aware of. No risk free methods on the water, but awareness and good practices can help.
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Old 05-24-2014, 11:47 AM   #3
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Thanks. Should be mandatory reading when getting your boating license.
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Old 05-24-2014, 12:01 PM   #4
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I saw a video in the last year of a kid at a small wave pool starting to drown. The pool was full of kids and when the child starts to drown, none of the other kids reacted to the child struggling in the water. It took the lifeguard about seven seconds to see the child in trouble and go after the kid which is not a damning statement about the lifeguard. I was really surprised the lifeguard saw the child struggling as fast as he did because the pool was so crowded.

The following is from page 14 of a US Coast Guard publication: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg534/On%...e/OSFall06.pdf.

Characteristics of the Instinctive Drowning Response:
  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary, or overlaid, function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people's mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people's mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people's bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.
  6. Below is the video but before watching, go back and read the five behaviors to see how many the child does. I have tried to not leave any clues as to which child is going to get in trouble, so you have to watch the pool knowing that something bad is about to happen but you do not know to which child. You only know a child is going to get into trouble and then be rescued.



I counted seven Mississippi's from the time the child gets into trouble before the lifeguard jumps into the pool. Step 5 says one only has 20-60 seconds and it took the Lifeguard seven to jump into the water and a few more seconds to get the child. What was scary to me is that if the child had breathed in water, and sunk to the bottom of the pool, it would have been very hard to see the kid because of the number of people in the pool.

The child is surrounded by other people, including another child who was playing with the kid who starts to drown and NONE of them reacted to the child. The drowning child's playmate just watched and did not know what was happening. Lifeguards who are supposed to know these behaviors, have watched people drown when they thought they were playing.

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Old 05-24-2014, 12:45 PM   #5
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Excellent post and timely considering the start of the summer boating season. My four year old religiously wears her PFD. My wife and I where a type III when underway. Amazing how we see very few people wear life vests.

I am most, careful, however at the dock when getting on and off the boat. I am often alone when working on the boat and could easily slip when getting on/off the dock--all it takes is for me to hit my head and become unconscious face down in the water.
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Old 05-24-2014, 03:01 PM   #6
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Just like to remind everybody that inflatable PFDs need regular inspection and maintenance. More and more people are using these units because they are more comfortable than the standard types. We should all be aware that there is a price for the extra comfort,a neglected unit may not inflate or hold gas when you suddenly need them to. EYS CGAUX VSE
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Old 05-24-2014, 03:56 PM   #7
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Thanks for posting this Ken! I just put a link to this page on the Squamish Yacht Club's Facebook page.
As it so happens I was saved from drowning in Skaha Lake five decades ago. Don't remember a thing as I was pulled out unconscious and revived right there on the beach; and as the article said, my parents were on the beach when it happened. - Boyd
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Old 05-24-2014, 06:13 PM   #8
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Serious injury or loss of life is my greatest fear in boating and an area I try to be very diligent. No guests on bow in rough water. No drunken guests wandering the boat. (Very little drinking on our boat and none while underway). No horseplay (and that also applies by the pool at home). I could live with a hurricane destroying the boat and pick up and start planning again. But I'm not sure I could ever return to boating if a life were lost from my boat. Simple things that are safe 99.9% of the time still merit attention. For instance, we never swim alone. Even if one of us simply wants a quick dip, the other stays near watching. We both have taken extensive medical and life saving courses. If you're working around the boat, say washing the decks, alone, that means PFD. We're very disciplined and repetitive in our procedure of getting into the RIB and out of it. It's always tied side to our swim platform, front and rear cleats before any movement to or from. Safety is procedures consistently followed. Still no perfect system but if we can lower the risk it's worth it.

I try not to obsess over it but I think having rules in place helps. Long ago on the lake, my neighbors had a guest who kept trying to get on the rear sundeck while we were underway. Rough conditions too. I stopped, made her sit in a seat. Repeated. But then told her the next time it happened, I would pull to the nearest dock or beach, put her out, and she could find her own way home. I was serious and she knew it. Was the risk low? I don't know. Just know of others rolling off and some right into the propellers on their way down. (Was stern drive). To some, emphasis on safety may reduce the fun, but to me it makes enjoyment without worry possible. Our guests know the rules. The great thing is that once you establish it with some friends as the norm of the boat, it's really not difficult as others automatically adhere too. There's a culture of safety built.

How many times have we seen someone thrown into a pool. Generally seems innocent enough. Soft landing in water. Well, unless you slip, they hit their head on the way in, or break their neck.

Now we love the water. Have been called water rats or worse. Both great swimmers and we swim often. But we do it as safely as we can.

And dock dangers are important. Loose items. Lines across or cables across. People hit their heads on falls from the docks. Also electric dangers around marinas.

Safety can become a habit. Then it's a lot easier.
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Old 05-24-2014, 09:08 PM   #9
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....

Safety can become a habit. Then it's a lot easier.
The manuals for my tractor, and stickers on the tractor, repeat the mantra of Saftey is a habit. This is very true with the hard part creating safe habits and not dangerous habits.

Working on the tractor and running a chainsaw are some of the most dangerous things I do. I make sure that I am in the habit of doing certain things to remain as safe as possible. You really don't get a second chance with heavy equipment or a chainsaw.

Later,
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Old 05-24-2014, 09:34 PM   #10
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Safety is about rules and regulations, and personal gear and habits.. Operational risk management is for actually doing things, much more useful than the old "safety" moniker.

Nothing is inherently safe...you have to identify the risks and minimize them yet still accomplish what you want, the way you want to...even if that "satisfaction" requires more risk. Like mountain climbing is more risky than walking around your local park...more risks but for those that chose to, more gain. You just minimize the risk versus gain to an acceptable point.

Some people wish to put rules on bating that I would never stand fr...I'd give up boating before I had to do some. They suggest absolutism versus responsibility supported by experience.

Like a capt that never wants to go aground...so travelling at high tide is more important than a normal daily routine with extra care being placed on navigating...silly but I have seen it and worse. Yes ....I recommend travelling at certain tides in certain areas...but that's "risk management"...not being driven by fear and the fear of doing something unsafe so it become a "steadfast safety rule" that make so much other stuff unobtainable or not enjoyable.

Coastal boating once a reasonable amount of experience is gained is so easy and safe compared to just driving 15 minutes to the store. Boats full of rules aren't for me....

When boating becomes fearful and full of rules...I'm out. Not saying being careful is stupid...but being stupid to be careful isn't my cup of tea.
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Old 05-24-2014, 09:36 PM   #11
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Good post. I'll have to show my son who is working on his final lifeguard class this weekend.

There was a very effective (for me, at least) television PSA put out by Ontario showing two forlorn kids sitting alone in a rowboat, with their life jackets on, staring at the water, where their fathers hat was floating.

I started wearing the life jacket and setting the example for my kids after seeing that one.
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Old 05-24-2014, 11:14 PM   #12
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Good post. I'll have to show my son who is working on his final lifeguard class this weekend.

There was a very effective (for me, at least) television PSA put out by Ontario showing two forlorn kids sitting alone in a rowboat, with their life jackets on, staring at the water, where their fathers hat was floating.

I started wearing the life jacket and setting the example for my kids after seeing that one.
I drive over a bridge where a grandfather drowned trying to save his grandson.

The two were out fishing one day and pulled under the bridge to tie up to one of the bridge columns. The grandson fell in the water trying to tie up and the grandfather jumped into the water to go after the child. A man was fishing from the bank and got the grandson to shore. The grandfather drowned. My guess is that the grandfather's head went under water and the water was cold enough to cause the gasp reflex.

Awful tragedy.

If either one of them had been wearing a PFD, the grandfather would have lived. If the man had not been fishing from the shore, the grandson would have drowned even though he was within yards of land.

Later,
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Old 05-25-2014, 02:56 AM   #13
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I'm not in favour of more rules, in fact, I'm one of the few people I know who finds derelicts picturesque. Children need our protection and just as we'd never take our kids out in the car without seatbelts, they need to wear PDFs. If adults, who have the experience and who understand the risk, wish to go without, fine, but never those whom you have a responsibility for.
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Old 05-25-2014, 04:07 AM   #14
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I'm not in favour of more rules, in fact, I'm one of the few people I know who finds derelicts picturesque. Children need our protection and just as we'd never take our kids out in the car without seatbelts, they need to wear PDFs. If adults, who have the experience and who understand the risk, wish to go without, fine, but never those whom you have a responsibility for.
But if they're on your boat, don't you have the responsibility for the adults as well? We don't make them wear PFD's if we're just canal cruising on a nice day. Even some gentle cruising elsewhere. But when conditions get rough then anyone on deck puts them on. Now that we have the habit, people generally put them on automatically before they're even asked to. If not, they see us do it and copy.
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Old 05-25-2014, 06:54 AM   #15
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If you want to keep people totally safe (absolute risk management)...never take them on a boat...it's all risk management from there if they do come aboard.

Your responsibility is having the life jacket aboard, offering it to them, making sure it can be and is properly adjusted and telling them it's a great idea and would probably save their life if something bad happens...making them wear it is NOT your responsibility.

Statistically the "risk" is just not there on boats over 30 something feet...especially if "would they have helped anyway?" or "were the conditions such they should have been on and weren't?" or "were they just weren't available or wearable in that situation?".

I believe in understanding risks over absolutetism...it keeps the mind young.

Back to the original post and a good one to really think through at that....

I remember years ago water safety institutions didn't really go much into the "look" of drowning as it was mostly a collection of opinions that aren't all that accurate in times of crisis. Widespread use of video and more research finally allowed them to rethink that portion of the training. Medial science has also helped a lot with the fine tuning of cold water drowning and hypothermia prevention and treatment.
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Old 05-25-2014, 10:16 AM   #16
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Timely discussion


http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2014/0...l-bay/9547377/

Just happened yesterday.
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Old 05-25-2014, 01:05 PM   #17
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One of the issues I have with many of the boats I have seen is that the rails are just at the right height to flip you overboard. I don't understand why the builders cannot add a few more inches which would put the rail above the waist which might actually keep one onboard.

We were on a trawler last weekend that DOES have rails that are tall enough to keep one on board. Having said that, when we build, we will have the rails lengthened another 1-3 inches.

The odds of any of us falling off this boat on the day we were out were pretty close to 0 but most of us on deck wore an inflatable PFD. It was comfortable and if we went into the water it would improve our odds of living. My wife spent quite a bit of time on the pilot house which was safe for the conditions but climbing the ladder to/from the PH was her most at risk moment. If she or anyone else, fell over board, they could easily be missed for a few minutes.

Reading a variety of accident reports over the years has made me notice a commonality. Often people are just in a hurry to get things done. They cut corners to save time and/or money. I suspect in many cases they have cut the corners for years but it only takes one time to bite you...

When running a chainsaw I ALWAYS wear safety glasses, helmet with face and ear protection and chaps. The chaps will stop the chain and hopefully prevent, or at least minimize, injury. I ALWAYS run the chainsaw at the start of the work day, and if I find my mind wondering when operating the saw, then the chainsaw gets put up for the day.

I see many people running chainsaws without safety equipment. The gear I wear might cost $100-$150 and last for years. The equipment can keep you out of the ER and spending $10-15 a year to keep me out of the ER is well worth the cost. Yet, very few people seem to use the equipment.

In one of my professions, I was one of the few people to wear certain safety gear irregardless of conditions. The equipment is hot and heavy and not comfortable to wear but it really was not that bad considering other clothing and conditions. It just made sense to wear the safety equipment even though it was not mandated. If you needed the gear it was to late to put it on.

I suspect when we get a trawler that the rule will be, if on deck while underway, an inflatable PFD will be worn. Certainly, if on the swim step even though it has high railings, or on the fly bridge/PH roof, a PFD will be worn. It really is not that big of a deal to wear one.

Later,
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Old 05-25-2014, 01:14 PM   #18
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Timely discussion


Officials release name of child missing in bay

Just happened yesterday.
That is a horrible. That poor family is in a living h...ll right now.

Years ago, a coworker almost had a child injured/killed in a boating accident. The two were sitting on the stern of the boat idling. The exhaust fumes caused the child to pass out and fall into the water. The parent was right there and quickly pulled the kid out of the water. The PFD kept the child face up and allowed the parent to quickly get the kid onboard. Some fresh air and the child was fine. Very scary and not an obvious danger to the parent since the fumes were not at her level.

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Old 05-25-2014, 01:17 PM   #19
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One of the issues I have with many of the boats I have seen is that the rails are just at the right height to flip you overboard. I don't understand why the builders cannot add a few more inches which would put the rail above the waist which might actually keep one onboard.
Cue pictures of the Coot...
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Old 05-25-2014, 02:31 PM   #20
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In one of my professions, I was one of the few people to wear certain safety gear irregardless of conditions. The equipment is hot and heavy and not comfortable to wear but it really was not that bad considering other clothing and conditions. It just made sense to wear the safety equipment even though it was not mandated. If you needed the gear it was to late to put it on.

One of the issues I have with many of the boats I have seen is that the rails are just at the right height to flip you overboard. I don't understand why the builders cannot add a few more inches which would put the rail above the waist which might actually keep one onboard.
As my career was in manufacturing, this was a constant issue for us. Seems some people cutting fabric more willing to lose fingers than wear gloves, some other employees seemed more willing to lose their hearing than wear headsets. Of course the safety equipment was supplied and mandatory. But we had to be tough on it and if seen not wearing it, there was immediate discipline. First time, minor. Second time, short suspension. Third time, termination. Fortunately once we made the rules firm, we had none that reached a third time. But just telling people to do it didn't get the job done.

As to rail heights, we just had a boat built and we did change the rails to taller ones. I honestly think the rail height was a matter of designer wanting the right look. Perhaps view from the boat was a consideration. Well, safety trumps look. Plus they did a test early and quickly realized it was not an issue. Just the same rails they use on a larger boat normally. We had chartered an identical boat with the normal rails and it's amazing the difference a few inches makes.
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