More on Water Safety: Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

Three children have already died this summer in Minnesota due to drowning incidents. These are two deaths that could have been prevented. One boy died while swimming IN A SWIMMING POOL with a lifeguard present.

Drowning is the Number 2 cause of accidental death in children under the age of 15.

From the article Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning by Mario Vittone.

1. Of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will drown within 25 yards of a parent or other adult.

2. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC).

3. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. Their mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water so they can’t speak.

5. Drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements so they can’t wave for help, move toward a rescuer, or reach out for a piece of rescue equipment.

6. Their bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a kick. Unless rescued they can only stay above water for 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.

Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning.  They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck.  One  way to be sure? 

1. Ask them: “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are. 

2. If they return  a blank stare – you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. 

3. And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.

Here are the stories about the two little ones who died. One is the son of a co-worker in my building.

WINONA, Minn. — A 5-year-old girl drowned Monday evening at Goodview’s LaCanne Park.

Emily Margarita Lopez Leon, of Arcadia, Wis., was with her family at the LaCanne Park beach when family members noticed she was missing.

The emergency report of a child missing at the park was called in at 6:43 p.m. and a search of the park and lake was launched.

First responders used a human chain to walk the swimming area of the beach. The girl was located at approximately 7:30 p.m. in about three feet of water, about 60 feet from the shore within the roped swimming area.

She had been in the water between 35 and 45 minutes, according to Goodview Police Chief Kent Russell.

The child was transported to Winona Health, where she was pronounced dead.

Goodview police, first responders and firefighters, Winona police and firefighters, the Winona County Sheriff’s Department and Dive Rescue, Winona Area Ambulance and Medlink Air joined in the search.

A 6-year old boy drowned in a supervised pool while at a birthday party on Friday evening at Oak Ridege Country Club in Hopkins.

The boy was spotted unresponsive in the water by a lifeguard, and country club employees and members were performing CPR on him when police arrived. He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where he was pronounced dead.

Hopkins police Sgt. Michael Glassberg said it was not clear what led to the drowning and said he knew of no issues with equipment safety at the pool. The pool has deep and shallow ends, a slide and other features. Glassberg said he didn’t know how deep the water was where the boy was found.

The drowning is under investigation by Hopkins police and the Hennepin County sheriff. “This is obviously a tragic situation,” Glassberg said. “We just want to remind people about pool safety. Summer’s here. We just need to make sure we’re being safe.”

Girl drowns in above-ground swimming pool in Minnesota

Published June 07, 2012, 06:11 PM

CHISAGO, Minn. — A toddler has drowned in an above-ground swimming pool after wandering outside her family’s home in east-central Minnesota.

The Chisago County sheriff’s office was called to a home south of Chisago City around 5:40 p.m. Wednesday on a report of a 14-month-old drowning victim. When sheriff’s officials arrived they found a neighbor who also is a nurse performing CPR on the girl.

The girl was pronounced dead in an emergency room. Her name was not immediately released.

Authorities say the girl’s father was outside working while his wife was inside with the children. He says his wife thought the girl was upstairs playing with her two older sisters.

The victim drowned in the shallow end of the pool. She may have been unaccounted for about a half-hour.


  1. My friends daughter died about 5 yrs ago swimming in2 feet of water, her hair got sucked up in the pool vacuum thing, it sucked her so hard it sucked all her intestines out. She lived for awhile and was told she would never be able to eat or drink again. She then got cancer bc of all the complications and the cancer took over her body and she eventually died. This happened in minnesota in 2 feet of water. So it can happen in shallow water too!!!!

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