With all that vigorous splashing, those flailing arms, the desperate cries for help—there’s no way you would miss the signs that a child is struggling in the water, right? If you answered yes, then watch the video above—and read on. Because sometimes the most common sign that someone is drowning . . . is that they don’t look like they’re drowning at all.
That’s the message Mario Vittone, a Coast Guard vet and water-safety expert, is trying to spread this summer. And it’s a crucial safety message for teenagers. In an article at Slate.com, Vittone explains the urgency of understanding what’s called the Instinctive Drowning Response:
“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 No. 2 cause of accidental death in children, ages 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.”
Now, while some of the typical thrashing (technically called “aquatic distress”) may occur, he says—it’s not a given. And once the instinctive response kicks in, you might have 30 seconds to save a life, tops.
That’s why it’s crucial not to only study up on the true drowning signs yourself, but also teach them to teens, who will most often be the ones out there in the water with the most at-risk potential victims—other young people. So read up on all of the quiet signs of someone drowning, and share the video above