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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What You Don’t Know About Drowning

(Flickr/ La Peyrecout Gites)

(Flickr/ La Peyrecout Gites)

Lifeguarding consultant Francesco Pia has some advice for the summer about drowning.  He worked as a lifeguard in New York’s Orchard Beach, and he made a documentary called “The Reasons People Drown,” that challenged a lot of misconceptions about drowning.  He found that:

1.) Drowning is often silent: Pia says that people drowning are often not able to yell for help, even though tv shows depict drowning victims as yelling and thrashing.

2.) Drowning happens very quickly: Pia says that drowning victims struggle for anywhere between 20 and 60 seconds.

3.) Drowning often happens when people are around others: Pia said he found many victims drowned while surrounded by others, who didn’t realize the person was drowning.

Government statistics show that two children drown every day in the U.S., one of those in a pool. Pia told Here & Now’s Robin Young that “in the same way that parents child-proof a home, they need to child proof their backyard pool if they have one.”

He recommends a few easy precautions for pool owners:

  • Install a fence around the pool that is at least 4 feet tall
  • There shouldn’t be a space of more than 4 inches in between the fencing
  • Install a self-closing, self-latching gate around the pool
  • Do not leave toys on the deck of the pool, because the toys “will serve as an attractant,” says Pia.

Pia also recommends that parents use “touch supervision.” Meaning, that they are close enough to their swimming child to touch him or her.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Ritz

    What about lake and river drowning?  West Michigan has had almost a dozen drownings already this year in rivers and Lake Michigan, some due to lack of respect for the conditions.

    • Jryan Bur

      Hi Ritz, Thanks for your recommendation, maybe we will do a future segment on lake and river drowning, also a very important topic.
      -Jill Ryan, Here & Now

  • Anonymous

    This was a timely, important and interesting broadcast, and no doubt it is eye-opening for many of the audience (at least I hope it is).  I am thankful for Here and Now for airing it.  BTW- I am a mother, lifeguard and WSI-certified swimming instructor.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dorothy-Sheehan/100002034094966 Dorothy Sheehan

    yes i almost drowned once when i was a kid. begged my cousin a lifeguard at a pond to give me a ride in the town boat and he did and threw me out of boat
    wise guy for hi school kid, I was about 9. went down about 9 ft and came up
    an act of God and my yen for survival.  thank u Jesus

  • Miss B

    I lost a child due to drowning. While talking to a RN I found out that most children that are  brought back fromn drowning suffer for the rest of their lives. They easily catch colds and have respratory problems for the rest of their lives. She said, They simply drown for the rest of their lives. 

  • PennyV

    These facts testify to why every human being sure learn at least basic swimming skills and water safety habits at as early an age as possible.  Although expert swimmers can still drown, it’s not as likely to happen as it is for someone who has no or little swimming experience.    But it’s also important to remember that people can drown in less than an inch of water too.

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