Misconceptions of drowning

Posted, Wednesday, April 9, 2014 --- 5:12p.m.

With the warming weather many families will soon be heading to the pools, would you know if your child was drowning if you're sitting right there next to the pool?

Today we tackled the common misconceptions on what drowning actually looks like and what many think it looks like.

Experts say a lot of times there's no screaming, no flailing, someone can slip silently into the water. That's why they say you can't rely on your ears to alert you.

It can happen in a matter of seconds.

"Someone who's really drowning usually cannot call out and say help I'm drowning.They're not going to be able to call out to you, they're concentrated on getting air," says YMCA Swim Director, Becky Whiting.

Their body going from horizontal in the water, to vertical. They may be able to splash with their arms, with their head tipped back, bobbing below the water line. But those signs are only there if they became distressed while swimming. In other instances there could be no signs at all.

"They may be at the bottom of the pool actually, if they had some kind of incident if they passed out."

So experts say just being in the area, reading a book or on a tablet wont cut it. You need to be looking and listening at all times when your children are in the water.

"Actively supervising actively watching them, not turning your back on them because things can happen so quickly."

And Whiting says lifeguards are essential, but you cant count on them to do it all.

"Moms always think 'oh the guard is watching' but we need your help to watch your kids and make it extra safe."

The YMCA actually has a "within arms reach" policy, making sure mom or dad can always grab the child if something goes wrong, but if the person isn't close to the side of the pool or lake, Whiting says the rule is: Reach or throw---don't go!

"You don't want to go in the water by them because if they're actually drowning they could grab onto you if they feel someone next to them because they're panicking and then you're both in trouble."

And the YMCA will be having SPLASH! Water Safety at Healthy Kids Day where anyone can come for free and to learn about water and boat safety. That event will be held at all Dane County YMCA locations on April 26th from 12pm-3pm.

The safety day will provide kids with handouts and worksheets about pool safety. They'll have stations where kids can learn how to reach and throw to help a distressed swimmer, boating safety, and lifejacket safety. There will also be a fun station where kids will participate in noodle races and penny finds.

You can go to www.ymcadanecounty.org for more information on that event.

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