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Drowning can be silent

By Jillian Fertig, Reporter, jillian.fertig@kmiz.com
Published On: Jun 11 2013 10:24:25 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 12 2013 07:50:34 AM CDT
COLUMBIA, Mo. -

In a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 750 children age 15 and younger will drown next year.

About 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent. 

When a child is drowning, you won't necessarily hear screams for help or even splashing. They're unable to call for help because they're gasping for air, just to be able to breathe.

ABC 17 News visited two public pools Tuesday and asked 13 parents how they would know if their child was drowning. 

Out of those 13, only two knew what to look for. 

It's often portrayed in movies as a loud and dramatic event, but drowning is almost always the opposite. 

"Their heads are back in the water," Columbia Recreation and Aquatics Supervisor Janel Twehous said. "They're gasping for that air. They're trying to keep that head above water and typically their arms and legs are under water, trying to move, but they're not going anywhere. Then they literally just slip under the water."

Other signs of drowning can include a child's eyes being wide open with a glassy look. Their hair could also be over their eyes or forehead. 

A drowning child is almost always in a vertical position, unable to use their arms or legs. They also might try to roll over on their back. 

They could also appear to be climbing an invisible ladder. 

Twehous said she has some suggestions to make swimming safer.

"If you child is not able to swim, first of all, get them enrolled in swimming lessons," Twehous told ABC 17 News. "Get them in the pool, get them used to the water, get those swimming lessons taken care of."

She said she also recommends putting children who are not strong swimmers in a life jacket. 

Columbia public pools have been open for two weeks and so far, no incidents have been reported.

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