Attorney Boyk Brings Attention to the Instinctive Drowning Response

Share Article

An article was recently released that explained what the true signs of drowning are. Attorney Boyk, member of the Board of Directors of the Josh Project which promotes safe swimming, felt it necessary to share the five basic components of the Instinctive Drowning Response with the community.

With area schools out for summer this week, the community pools will begin to get busy throughout the days. This brings the need for water safety and education to an all-time high as many young children attend summer day camps in which swimming is part of the daily schedule. The belief that drowning is an event in which an individual thrashes in the water, yells for help, and waves their arms is false. Instead, when someone is drowning, they may go on unnoticed. According to's recent article, of the 750 children that drown each year, half of them are within 25 yards of an adult.

Dr. Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., named a victim’s response to drowning the Instinctive Drowning Response. According to Dr. Pia, this response is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water, and it does not look like one would expect. As stated in the Coast Guard’s On Scene magazine, the Instinctive Drowning Response includes five components which are listed below:

1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.
2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submission occurs

Attorney Boyk stated that it is very critical, for the safety of our children, to be aware of the events that occur when an individual is drowning. He wants to share Dr. Pia's information in hopes to save lives this summer as he is a strong supporter of water safety, holding a member seat on the Josh Project's Board of Directors, Toledo's water safety organization.

“Drowning is not the act that most people have in their mind. It is instead a quiet event that could happen within yards of someone without them knowing. I want to help educate the community so we can prevent tragic accidents from occurring this summer,” said Boyk.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Charles E Boyk
Follow us on
Visit website