1 - Have you wondered what really causes a person to die from drowning? It's hard to imagine a more horrific manner of dying, except for possibly burning to death. The key to death from drowning is that the lungs were not designed to squeeze oxygen out of water and as a result the intake of water serves to cut off the supply of life-giving oxygen. Another problem is that when a person is drowning, the body is also taking in too much carbon dioxide. This rapid accumulation of carbon dioxide effectively serves to poison the heart, causing it to quit beating.
2 - Fear and anxiety play a large part in determining whether a person will drown or not. That is why you are always cautioned to try to relax in such a situation. The person below the surface who is struggling to rise to the top just naturally attempts to get any oxygen possible in an instinctive attempt to preserve life. Of course, this has the result of drawing water into the larynx and that causes yet another instinctive bodily response: swallowing. This process can repeated over and over again and that is why even a person who has not drowned to death may spit up considerable volumes of water during the attempt to revive.
3 - We've all seen the scene replayed in movies, most dramatically, perhaps, in The Abyss when Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio almost succumbs before ejecting nearly a lake from inside her body. The struggle for life down below the surface also actually has the effect of weighing down a drowning person's body, making it even more difficult to rise to the surface. The more water a person takes water into their body, the more difficult it will be to rise above and breathe in that wonderful oxygen.
4 - There have been many cases where a person has been revived after being submerged for a considerable amount of time. The reason for this seeming miracle is that the body's breathing apparatus can keep working pretty well for several minutes even after consciousness has been lost. The heart can continue to beat for several minutes after that. The method of reviving a person who has struggled not to drown is to forcibly remove that water from the lungs and replace it with oxygen.
5 - The key to staying alive in such situations is simple in theory, but not so much in practice. It really is of vital importance to keep your cool and avoid panicking in a drowning situation. Obviously, this will be even more difficult if the circumstances surrounding the submersion in the first place is chaotic. For instance, even though the panic may be great should your boat be capsized, it almost goes without question that the situation is far worse should your car be forced off a bridge for some reason. Either way, doing whatever it takes to stave off the effects of panic can be mean the difference between drowning and surviving.
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