Recognising Drowning and Surviving Cold Water

Drowning does not look like drowning, and without flotation you will not live long enough to die from hypothermia if you fall into cold water. These are just two warnings from Mario Vittone–long-serving U.S. Navy and Coast Guard expert on maritime safety–writing in the maritime and offshore news site, gCaptain.

In the first of two articles on water safety, Vittone discusses what drowning is really like, and how to recognise it:

Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. […] 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 […] is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect.

In a follow-up to this article, Vittone then discusses the truth about cold water and how to survive it (recognise and attempt to manage the “significant physiological reactions that occur, in order, almost always”).

This first of these article has been mentioned on a number of highprofile sites, and for good reason. It’s a must-read.