Drowning: Principal Cause Of Death In Swimming Accidents



Swimming in outdoor bodies of water always entails some risks. There is, for instance, the possibility that a swimmer will attempt descending to great depths and then getting caught between rocks or entangled in weeds. Such a scenario can most likely result to drowning, often the main cause of death in underwater accidents.

In a typical case similar to that illustrated above, the swimmer who begins to drown is at once overpowered by fright. This makes attempts of rescue by another swimmer highly risky, since the rescuer may be pulled under the water and drowns as well. In such a case, it is always better that the drowning swimmer is thrown anything that will help him buoy himself up (a pole, for example) than to attempt a person-to-person rescue.

If the drowning swimmer has been injured, he should be removed from the water very carefully. Keeping the victim's nose and mouth above water while he is adrift may be easy. But the moment his removal from the water is attempted, the water loses its buoyancy and the effort to take him out of the water may worsen his injury.

Many times it is suggested that an injured swimmer is kept afloat until some equipment suitable for use in the given situation arrive; it may be necessary, however, to restore breathing by means of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while the victim is kept above water. When removing an injured swimmer from the water, it is important that his body is kept straight by placing him on top of anything firm with a flat surface as he is being carried out of the water.

The danger of drowning has a lot of contributing factors that not even seasoned swimmers are absolutely safe. Hyperventilation is one such factor. It is defined as the "excessive rate and depth of respiration leading to abnormal loss of carbon dioxide from the blood."

Such a condition can occur in a swimmer the moment he repeatedly breaths deeply just prior to going under water; by this, the swimmer effectively lets loose a substantial amount of carbon dioxide from his body (carbon dioxide, in fact, stimulates breathing). Consequently, the swimmer sort of deprives himself his breathing capacity and may altogether lose consciousness.

A similar situation in which hyperventilation may occur is when a swimmer performs successive dives with only brief intervals between plunges. Again in this situation, the diver may take repeated deep breaths between plunges, which, in effect, may result to the total removal of carbon dioxide from his body. And in all certainty, this will lead to his losing interest in breathing any further, causing him to lapse into unconsciousness.

Note that a swimmer rescued from drowning in salt water has lost body fluid from osmotic action of the saltwater. Thus he needs water given him orally. The additional water may not be necessary for someone rescued from a freshwater accident.

In case the drowning victim has stopped breathing, artificial respiration should be started immediately. Allow members of a rescue squad to take over (when they arrive), so that pure oxygen can be given to the victim. The rule is to continue attempting to revive the victim for no less than an hour before giving him up as dead.

On the other hand, a swimmer successfully rescued from drowning still needs care, preferably in a hospital, for as long as the doctor thinks is necessary.


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