Many people think that if someone is drowning, it will be extremely obvious. Lots of splashing, screaming for help, and arm waving. But this almost never happens. The Instinctive Drowning Response, a phrase coined by Francesco A. Pia, PhD, prevents someone from waving or calling for help. Their bodies focus on breathing, not speaking, and their hands and arms are often instinctively pushing down on the water, not waving for help. This makes it much harder for lifeguards to spot victims.
A fantastic new website lets you see this for yourself. Computer programmer Francisco Saldaña created an educational lifeguarding simulation to help people appreciate how hard it can be to spot someone who is drowning. This is a great tool for lifeguards, for parents, and for anyone else responsible for monitoring a pool or body of water.
How to Use the 'Spot the Drowning Child' Simulator
As soon as you open the simulator a video will begin playing. You need to closely monitor the entire pool. As soon as you see someone in distress you need to click your mouse on that person. The simulator will let you know if you spotted someone correctly.