Why It’s Possible to Drown in a Dry Parking Lot

  Part 3 in my series on drowning. See all my posts about rescuing drowning victims here. by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Ever heard of parking lot drowning? That’s what lifeguards anyway. Others may call it secondary drowning. It can happen minutes to hours after a near-drowning victim is revived. It can even happen to someone who didn’t nearly drown—who just sucked a little too much water down their lungs, coughed and choked, and then appeared perfectly fine. Later on (maybe, say, sitting in a parking lot), the victim can suddenly become unable to get enough oxygen. If not treated they can, in essence, drown. Cause […]

By | June 30th, 2014|General|7 Comments

When Someone’s Drowning: 4 Resuscitation Tips. (Some May Surprise You.)

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH This is part 2 of my drowning series. See part 1, about essential swimming skills and rescuing drowning victims, here.  Once you pull someone drowning to safety, what next? If they’re unresponsive and not breathing, three things should be done at once if there are enough people around to do them: Call 911, start CPR, look for an AED machine. In a survival situation, if you can’t call 911 and there’s no AED machine, […]

By | June 23rd, 2014|General|5 Comments

Why You Might Need Swimming Lessons Even If You Can Swim

James Hubbard, MD, MPH Every year even good swimmers drown. Some are in an accident or become unconscious due to a seizure, alcohol, or another reason. Some drown trying to help others. And some just don’t know how to swim as well as they thought. According to a survey done by the American Red Cross, 80 percent of Americans say they can swim, but only 56 percent can complete all five critical water safety skills that make up what’s known as “water competency.” Could you? The skills are: […]

By | June 16th, 2014|Children, General|5 Comments

What I Learned As a Lifeguard Could Save Your Child From Drowning

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH When I was a teen I lifeguarded, first at the public pool, then at a lake. Here are two things I learned: […]

By | June 26th, 2013|Children, Hot|1 Comment

Hands-Only CPR Is for Landlubbers. Old-style Is for Near Drownings.

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Although I’ve never had to perform CPR on a drowning victim, I’ve done it on others. And I can tell you, it’s a little more complicated and messy than what you what you see on TV. There, the victims almost always make it. Just a little light chest pressing, maybe a push or two on the stomach, then, when all hope seems lost, the person suddenly spits out a gob of water, and that’s that. In real life, for one thing, you’ve really got to press hard on the chest—much harder than any live actor is going to stand for. For another, it’s not only water that comes up. About eighty percent of near-drowning victims vomit at some point during the resuscitation. Bet you’re not going to see that on the next version of Baywatch. […]

By | July 6th, 2012|General|51 Comments

Going to the Pool? Watch Your Kids—Even With a Lifeguard

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. I worked as a lifeguard when I was a teen. Great job, usually. The Fourth of July was always an exception—so crowded. There was no way to keep up with everyone in the water. I basically hoped (prayed) that if someone started drowning, a person close by would shout, really loudly, above all the other shouting. Because, contrary to popular belief, a drowning victim usually doesn’t throw up their hands and shout, “Help, I’m drowning!” Usually they don’t shout anything. They’re doing all they can to stay afloat and gasp for breath. Sure, they may be splashing like crazy. But everyone was splashing like crazy. Then there are those who just silently go under. […]

By | July 3rd, 2012|Children, Hot, Weather|17 Comments

How Drowning in Cold Water Can Save Your Life

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Real case. A doctor falls through an ice hole while cross-country skiing. They find her body many yards away. It’s been under the ice for over an hour. She is resuscitated. After the ICU, she spends many months in rehab, but in a year she’s back to practicing medicine. A snowmobile accident submerges a man in icy water for an hour. He lives, with no apparent brain damage. It’s rare, but it happens. In normal circumstances the brain can’t go without new oxygen for over six minutes without developing significant damage. How can some people survive an hour of total submersion–seemingly drowned in cold water? Part of the answer is that the rapid cooling can trigger the mammalian dive reflex. […]

By | January 26th, 2012|Cold, Weather|6 Comments

Video: How to Get Yourself Out of a Hole–Ice Hole, That Is

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. In my post "How to Survive If You Fall Into Cold Water," I wrote about what to do if you fall through the ice. My second-born, Beth Nelson—a paramedic in Alaska—sent [...]

By | January 24th, 2012|Cold, Videos, Weather|1 Comment

How to Survive If You Fall Into Cold Water

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. A few days ago, in a nearby town, a man in his forties drowned. Apparently he was chasing his dog, and they fell through the ice. He got the dog out but not himself. Horrible And, although I don’t know any details, it makes me think of the many deaths like this that are preventable. Of course there’s the obvious: Don’t walk on thin ice. The weather’s been pretty warm here in Colorado, and the ice on the ponds is never very thick anyway. But, according to one article I read, our firemen and rescuers spend a fair amount of time chasing people off iced ponds. So what can you do if you or someone else takes an accidental plunge? It helps to know what happens when you fall into cold water. […]

By | January 19th, 2012|Cold, Weather|7 Comments