Lifeguard shortages mean you should know what drownings really look like

Fewer lifeguards at area swimming spots means parents and others may be on duty. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams gets details of what really happens when someone's drowning from a Mayo Clinic emergency medicine doctor.

Be vigilant when kids are near or in swimming areas. TNS
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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in children. Dr. Michael Boniface , a Mayo Clinic Emergency Medicine physician, says that on average, more than 10 people die from drowning each day, most of them children.

But he says drowning doesn't usually happen the way people expect. There isn't the splashing and screaming you see in movies.

"In most cases, you don't see a struggle," Boniface said. "You just see somebody under the water or floating face down."

Drowning people don't wave their arms because their arms instinctively push down to try to get them above water. And they don't make noise. So if a child is noticeably quiet, think red flag.

Boniface said drowning prevention is key. Limit alcohol, fence off pools and vigilantly watch kids in the water.


"This involves close, constant adult supervision, somebody watching the water at all times," he said.

The American Lifeguard Association recently told Newsweek that at least one-third of all public pools may have to close this summer because there are not enough lifeguards.


Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

Blood pressure, body weight, cholesterol and blood glucose are some of the numbers that measure heart health. The American Heart Association has added sleep to that list. Why? Because research about how sleep effects those numbers keeps emerging. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams talks to a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and sleep expert about why sleep is vital to your heart health.

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