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Water safety: drowning isn’t what it looks like on TV

Pink Float Tube Floating in Swimming Pool Copyright: Image by StockUnlimited

Drownings are reported every year in Mississippi, and nationwide, drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-14, according to the YMCA. 

“The most common reason for drowning is the person doesn’t know how to swim properly,” says Ashley McClendon, Aquatics Director at YMCA in Flowood, “or they just get too tired and don’t make it.”

Drowning is preventable, says McClendon, but oftentimes, people don’t know the signs of drowning. The common misconception is that someone will scream and kick in the water.

“There won’t be a lot of kicking and screaming,” says McClendon, “they will have their head tilted back, hands either straight out in front or straight out to the side, trying to push the water down and keep the face up.”

Graphic courtesy NOAA-USLA Rip Current Task Force

McClendon says a person drowning often won’t scream because they are fighting for air. Children are also likely to bob up and down if their feet can barely touch the bottom.

If you start to get too tired to make it to shore or the side of the pool, McClendon says there is something you can do.

“Try calling for help,” says McClendon, “or just use your arms for a second. If you can float on your back and just let the water move you, that’s an option as well.”

To avoid tiring out, McClendon warns that taking a break every thirty to forty-five minutes will reduce feelings of fatigue while swimming.


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