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May 22, 2014

May 21, 2014

For more information,
Contact: Amanda Shell Jennings
Moxley Carmichael
(865) 255-0661


As Memorial Day approaches, families are getting ready for the season’s first splash in the pool or day at the lake. Without supervision, however, swimming can be a dangerous activity for children. Priority Ambulance urges families to recognize the signs of drowning and always watch children during water activities and sports.

“When a child is in the water, parents need to be actively watching at all times,” said Robyn Asher, Priority Ambulance professional development manager. “Movies and television can portray an unrealistic view of what drowning really looks like with victims waving their arms, thrashing or calling for help. In a real drowning situation, victims can slip quickly and quietly underwater before anyone notices what is happening.”

Drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death in children ages 10-14. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 750 children will drown within the next year, and about 375 of them will drown within 25 yards of a parent or adult.

Drowning victims often cannot get their mouths above water long enough to inhale to call for help. Their limbs will be busy under the surface pushing down on the water and trying to bring their mouths above the surface to breathe. Their bodies will be upright in the water with no evidence of a kick or struggle. These are signs of behavior called Instinctive Drowning Response.

“Once a child reaches this point, a rescuer may have as little as 20 to 60 seconds to intervene before the child slips beneath the surface,” Asher said. “If a person is waving or calling for help, the situation is still serious. This is a sign of aquatic distress, which can quickly escalate to Instinctive Drowning Response.”

Signs of Instinctive Drowning Response may include:

  • Mouth submerged or head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes closed or glassy, unable to focus
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Vertical position in water
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Appearing to be climbing an invisible ladder

To prevent drowning, safety measures like fences around bodies of water and flotation devices are helpful, but parental supervision is the best defense. Children should always be supervised by a CPR-certified adult near the water. When supervising a child in the water, remove all distractions, stay alert and know basic CPR. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 4, and the second leading cause for children 1 to 14 Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 4, and the second leading cause for children 1 to 14

Know the real signs of drowning before splashing in the pool, taking the boat out on the lake or swimming in the ocean and keep families safe this summer.

About Priority Ambulance

Based in Knoxville, Tenn., Priority Ambulance provides the highest level of clinical excellence in emergency and nonemergency medical care to the communities it serves. Throughout its national service area, more than 300 highly trained paramedics, EMTs and telecommunicators staff state-of-the-art ambulances with the latest medical equipment and technology.