Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Drowning: Did You Know...?

I'm currently working on a post about our vacation, and goodness, it's taking a long time! All these pictures to upload!

But, in the interim, here's a link to an incredibly sobering article about drowning. I happened across this today and am so grateful that I did. Of course, it brought back haunting memories of our scare with Josiah in the pool at Highland Retreat a few years ago. I never quite get over that.

More recently, we had a tiny scare with Tobin during vacation. One afternoon, we were playing in the little kids' area of the waterpark at the hotel; and Tobin was busily going down a very small water slide, then climbing up the steps to do it again. Over and over, he repeated this, and was very happy. And then, he slid down a slide; but instead of sitting up the whole ride down and arriving at the bottom in a seated position, he leaned back and was laying down when he reached the bottom. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not that he got into that position; but in any case, in that position, his face was completely submerged. Thank God (and I do thank Him, fervently and continually, for His protection), I happened to have my eyes on Tobin and saw what happened; and without a second's delay, I rushed to him and pulled him up out of the water. The terror in his eyes is unforgettable. He coughed and cried, and I held him and calmed him down; but, although he wasn't seriously hurt, he did not regain his carefree, playful spirit of climbing the steps and sliding down over and over. It sobered him.

It sobered me, too. Even more, it reminded me that I must be constantly vigilant when my boys are anywhere close to water. I can hardly overstate that.

Reading the article on drowning reinforced all of these thoughts; but as I read it, I found myself particularly remembering the quietness, the "calmness," the absence of yelling or splashing or anything like that, in the situation involving Josiah and the one involving Tobin. It makes perfect sense now. And as much as we continue to warn our boys about the danger of water and as much as we seek to equip them with strategies they can use if they ever find themselves in trouble in the water, I now see that it's nearly impossible for a child (or an adult, for that matter) to use those strategies in the panic of the moment. Fear is a terribly powerful thing (I know that all too well from my recent encounter with a snake), erasing all logical thoughts and replacing them with absolute terror. Last week, I saw that terror in Tobin's eyes as he lay under the water. Almost two years ago, I heard that terror in Josiah's voice as he cried, "I'm going to die, I'm going to die." I have felt that terror within my own being.

I still feel it, especially when I consider that, without intervention, Josiah would have died. He would have been unable to get himself back into the shallow part of the pool; and he would have died. Without intervention, Tobin would have died. He would have been unable (because of his panic) to do the seemingly easy act of sitting himself up, and he would have died.

As I feel tears well up, I can hardly think of the words to write to express my gratitude to God for His protecting arms around my sons. God knows how thankful I am.

This post, which was supposed to be short and quick, got long. That always happens to me. I'm not very good at writing short posts. But if you're reading this and have another minute to spare, go read this article.

It may save someone's life.


Beth said...

What a sobering topic, but such an important one. Summertime is so focused around water, pools, and lakes...and it is so important that we recognize the warning signs and stay vigilant as parents.

Your story about Josiah just made me shudder. I am sure it is something you will never get over or forget.

On a family trip to CA when I was growing up I got caught in a rip tide with my Dad. He and I both thought for sure we were going to drown. My Dad would lift me up and throw me towards shore, just for the waves to crash over my head and suck me back out deeper. We were both getting so exhausted. My Mom watched from the shore waving to us, completely unaware that we were in serious danger.

It was so frightening and we made sure we informed ourselves after that about how to correctly swim out of rip tides and get to shore. Thanks Davene for posting this.

Anonymous said...

Davene, thanks for the link to the article. It was both helpful and chilling.

I read your posts on Josiah's near-drowning and I have tears in my eyes. The thought of losing a precious child is terrifying. I know you will never forget this incident.

We joined a pool for the first time this year. I grew up going to the swimming pool every day during the summer and I wanted Peter to have the same experience. Well, we've only gone a few times because he is afraid of the deep end. Two boys drowned in a public pool in a neighboring town at the beginning of the summer and he can't stop thinking about it. He much prefers the lake instead and we have been practicing his swimming skills a lot.

Polly said...

Great article. I sent it to various friends and family members, and my dad, who was a lifeguard and has tons of beach-swimming experience, wrote back that it was superb and exactly described what happens when someone is drowning. So important to know!!

Margie said...