Is that person drowning? 8 quiet signs you should know!

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Drowning doesn’t mean flailing arms and calling for help.

Knowing these silent signs

of drowning can mean the difference between life and death.

If 2 or more people are in the water, which one do you rescue first?

Unfortunately, the fact is that often those watching don’t know what to look for because drowning doesn’t look like drowning.

This edition is not only for those at sea but is critical knowledge for anyone around water, especially when around water anywhere!

To ward off a tragedy in the making, watch for these signs that someone is in trouble.

  1. They can’t call for help

They have to be able to breathe before they can speak. When a person is drowning, their mouth sinks below and reappears above the surface of the water. There isn’t time for them to exhale, inhale, and call out.

  1. They can’t wave for help either.

A drowning person instinctively extends her arms to the sides and presses down to lift their mouth out of the water; a child may extend their arms forward. They can’t use their arms to move toward a rescuer or reach for rescue equipment.

  1. They remain upright in the water

They remain upright in the water with no evidence of kicking. They can struggle for only 20 to 60 seconds before going under.

  1. Their eyes are glassy

Their eyes are glassy and unable to focus or closed.

  1. Their face may be hard to see

Their face may be hard to see as their hair may be over their forehead or eyes.

  1. Their Head is low in the water

Their head is low in the water with their mouth at water level and their head may be tilted back with mouth open. A child’s head may fall forward.

  1. They are quiet

Children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you need to get to them and find out why.

  1. They don’t seem in distress

Sometimes the most important indicator that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they are drowning. They may just seem to be looking up at the sky, shore or the vessel. Ask them, “Are you all right?” If they can answer at all, they probably is. If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We highly recommend that as many people onboard know the 8 quite signs of a person drowning and have current CPR training.

By knowing these signs allows you to understand the difference between someone who needs immediate help and another who may be able to survive a little longer when there are 2 or more persons in the water.


When someone is in the water throw anything that floats towards them to help support them until you can rescue them. If there’s a lifebuoy close at hand throw it towards them. Remember you don’t want this to be the last thing you see of the victim!