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Do You Know What Drowning Looks Like?

with 2 comments

Do You Know What Drowning Looks Like?

The Monthly Feature from the Medical News TODAY

If you and your family are planning to spend some of this summer by the sea, by the pool, or perhaps even a river or lake, perhaps you should ask yourself, would you be able to spot someone in trouble in the water, in time to save their life: do you really know what drowning looks like?

Mario Vittone, a writer on maritime safety, tells a story about a former life guard, now a boat captain, who spotted a potentially fatal incident from fifty feet away. The captain jumped off his own boat, and sprinted toward a family swimming between the beach and their anchored boat: he sped past the astonished parents, to save their nine-year old daughter, who had been quietly drowning not ten feet behind her father.

Vittone, whose articles have appeared in many magazines, including Reader’s Digest, said he was not surprised when he heard this story: he knows a thing or two about drowning, having served nineteen years in the US Navy and Coast Guard, and his strongest message is “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning”.

Furthermore, says the CDC, many parents have watched their child drown without realizing what was happening. They did not know what the captain who saved the little girl in Vittone’s story was trained to notice and her parents were blissfully unaware of: the signs of Instinctive Drowning Response, a term coined by Dr Francesco A. Pia, a water safety expert.

Vittone and Pia wrote about the Instinctive Drowning Response, in the Fall 06 issue of On Scene, the journal of the US Coast Guard Search and Rescue. Pia says it is what people do to avoid suffocating in water: they don’t splash much, they don’t wave, and they don’t yell or call out. Quite different to what many of us might expect.


When reading this today, all the alarms in my soul went off. How many do we know that have drowned spiritually in front of our eyes and we didn’t see the signs of their unspoken struggles?

I’m not talking about those whose overt actions and speech give away their desire for the world. It’s those that we know whose struggle for survival is inward and their pride keeps them from admitting they need help.

Pastors, evangelists, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, parents and concerned saints have ALL experienced the horror of losing someone dear to them. Some of us were oblivious to the spiritual drowning.

God help us all to be more aware of the needs of our sisters and brothers.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

September 21, 2010 at 11:15 am

2 Responses

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  1. Thank you for posting this! This goes along with my post at GNC regarding lack of fellowship in the church.

    Lani Ellingsworth

    September 21, 2010 at 2:35 pm

  2. My husband’s dad who was a hired transporter of 350 thousand dollar fishing boats to Miami boat shows was leaving the dock with his retired policemen friend, boat, a Carolina Classic, left the factory and brand new headed for Miami. It never happened in their history. the boat failed 5 hours out to sea in the channel going down the Carolina coastline. Engines failed, no mayday came through, no cell phones, and he went down under to save the engines and repair to no avail. The boat sunk in 19 feet of water and wedged down hard in the mud. It was found missing but no men could be found till duck hunters found two men floating on the water. Tom’s dad was found face up, looked like asleep and left arm wrapped securely around that life jacket, found four days in the water, hypothermia also. He hated Tom’s church and Brother Copeland and took everything from Tom in inheritance. After court battle,we got it all and then some. God saw fit for us to buy a house one half mile from the church with that and give us retirement too. We miss him but don’t miss those cursings and ranting and raving and drunkenness and gun he carried and threats to us and the church.

    Janell and tom Puleo

    September 21, 2010 at 6:39 pm

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