IN THIS ARTICLE
Drowning is a silent killer. Victims may not be able to call for help because they are expending all of their energy trying to breathe or keep their head above water. When water is inhaled, the upper airway or larynx (voicebox) may go into a spasm, making it difficult to cry for help.
Victims of drowning usually do not thrash in the water as often depicted on television or in the movies. Most victims are found floating or submerged in the water.
The drowning sequence
Signs of drowning
In real life, drowning doesn't look at all like it is depicted on television or in the movies. The victim does not flail and thrash in the water. Instead, drowning tends to be a deceptive quieter act, and victims tend to appear lethargic or are found unresponsive floating on the water or submerged beneath it.
The drowning victim often is bobbing with their head tilted back just at the waterline and the mouth wide open. There are attempts to keep rolling on to the back. The respiratory effort may be rapid but is often shallow. The eyes tend to be wide open and may hold a sense of panic. If there is a swimming effort, it is weak and uncoordinated.