How to recognize that someone is drowning

My good friend Barbara and I went out to Lake Travis on Monday afternoon. She is not a fan of cold water, and that is the warmest water in this area that I could think of. We went to Pace Bend Park. Neither of us had been there before.

We parked. She waded, I swam, then we sat in lawn chairs with our feet in the water and had one of those long, delightfully meandering conversations.

We were kind of away from a knot of people who looked like they were having a big family party.

As we were leaving, we saw a park ranger SUV with lights flashing heading our way. I noticed a man in the knot of people talking on a cell phone and waving his arm at the ranger.

Barbara and I drove up to a nearby picnic spot and ate some watermelon, and while we were there, a helicopter flew in, hovering over the water just past the knot of people.

Barbara said, “This isn’t good. Look. That helicopter isn’t going anywhere. It’s just hovering, stirring up the water. They’re looking for something. I think someone drowned.”

That’s all I could figure too. Our hearts felt heavy.

We headed back into town, taking a different route back to the main road. I heard a siren but didn’t see it.

I read the next day that a 25-year-old man had drowned at Pace Bend. He’d been swimming and didn’t resurface. It’s a heart-rending loss for someone to die so young.

I thought of the link that made the rounds on Facebook recently, about how drowning doesn’t look like the movies show it. I’m sharing that link here.

Everyone needs to know how to recognize that someone is drowning. 

To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 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. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC).


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