PDA

View Full Version : Drowning - is it a slow, agonizing death?


pasiphae
04-18-2001, 01:41 PM
Hello,

I was recently reading a fact-book for writers called "Cause of Death" in which the author - Keith D. Wilson, M.D. - describes death by drowning as a "slow, agonizing death".

I was wondering just how slow and agonizing drowning - the 'total immersion, head held under water' kind, not the 'frantically gasping at the surface for air' kind - actually is. My misspent years lounging in front of the TV and dossing at my local flea-pit have lead me to believe that drowning is an unpleasant, uncomfortable, frightening, panic-filled but relatively brief and relatively painless way to die.

So just how long does it take for a person to expire from lack of oxygen? Does a person lose consciousness before death and if so how long before consciousness is lost? How painful is the experience would you guess? Is 'drowning at the surface' more prolonged and unpleasant than drowning while completely immersed in water? What are the effect if any of oxygen deprivation on the brain and senses - does a person feel light-headed, euphoric, filled with terror? Does water temperature effect the onset of death?

I'd be very grateful if the forum members could rescue me from my complete ignorance on this grisly subject. Many thanks for your help!

Best,

pasiphae

Mahaloth
04-18-2001, 06:06 PM
I don't know. It's been so long since I drowned to death, I forget whether it was slow or painful. :p

barbitu8
04-18-2001, 06:24 PM
Of course you would lose consciousness before you died, due to lack of oxygen to the brain.

Long ago I thought that if one were to commit suicide, voluntary drowning would be the best way to go: quick and painless. After all, swimming underwater is a pleasure. Every thing is so nice and peaceful. Just don't bother to come up to breathe. You'd pass into unconsciousness and then death. However, after reflecting on this, it would be uncomfortable to keep holding your breath when all your bodily systems demand otherwise. You'd probably have to open your mouth to breathe, but you'd be breathing water, which is not conducive to life unless you have gills. More importantly, since that is your intent, you'd gag and be most uncomfortable. But it would only last for moments before you pass out.

Now, if this is done to you involuntarily, the discomfort would be increased exponentially.

Padeye
04-18-2001, 06:40 PM
Based on some other observations I think that passing out would be quick though not pleasant. Rob your lungs of oxygen and you'll pass out very quickly as the oxygen poor blood is pumped to your brain. I saw this once when we tested CO2 inflated live vests. The vests are deflated with the tube provided for mouth inflation. A certain not so bright person decided to suck all the "air" out of the vest. A single lungful made him very nearly pass out. He said his vision actually went dark for a moment.

lawoot
04-18-2001, 06:43 PM
See The Perfect Storm

Not the movie... the BOOK.

There is a pretty good descriptoipn in there of what Death by Drowning is like... The author got his information from the story ofa doctor who got amazingly close to actually drowning, without dying (I believe he was in a shipwreck, himself), who then journaled nis experience as frankly as he could. Sorry I don't have my copy handy, or I'd tell you where to look (and actually do a short quote or two).

pasiphae
04-18-2001, 06:44 PM
Originally posted by Mahaloth
I don't know. It's been so long since I drowned to death, I forget whether it was slow or painful. :p

Smart arse. :D

pasiphae
04-18-2001, 06:54 PM
Originally posted by lawoot
See The Perfect Storm

Not the movie... the BOOK.

There is a pretty good descriptoipn in there of what Death by Drowning is like... The author got his information from the story ofa doctor who got amazingly close to actually drowning, without dying (I believe he was in a shipwreck, himself), who then journaled nis experience as frankly as he could. Sorry I don't have my copy handy, or I'd tell you where to look (and actually do a short quote or two).

Thanks lawoot! I'm going to check the book out tomorrow when I'm in town. :)

Indicentally, I've seen the film itself about 20 or 30 times - I used work as a video store clerk (the foulest vermin of them all) and was made to endure compulsory looped showings of currently 'hot' films by the store owners. Imagine if you can, five 28" TV sets blasting out the theme tune to 'Titanic' over and over and over again....

sethdallob
04-18-2001, 07:45 PM
Originally posted by pasiphae

Thanks lawoot! I'm going to check the book out tomorrow when I'm in town. :)

Indicentally, I've seen the film itself about 20 or 30 times - I used work as a video store clerk (the foulest vermin of them all) and was made to endure compulsory looped showings of currently 'hot' films by the store owners. Imagine if you can, five 28" TV sets blasting out the theme tune to 'Titanic' over and over and over again....

Jeez, that would make me want to drown myself. :p

Harmonious Discord
04-18-2001, 08:09 PM
I know someone that drowned kayaking. He was panicky, until he breathed in. At that point he went limp and doesnít remember anything, until his friend recesitated him.

barbitu8
04-18-2001, 08:48 PM
Originally posted by Harmonious Discord
I know someone that drowned kayaking. He was panicky, until he breathed in. At that point he went limp and doesnít remember anything, until his friend recesitated him.

Did he necessitate recistation? What's more amazing is that he drowned yet was resuscitated.

Whack-a-Mole
04-18-2001, 08:58 PM
This is what I remember from some of my scuba classes:

An average person has about two minutes of useful consciousness whithout breathing. Some people, through training and excellent health, may extend this time considerably. From 2-3 minutes you will probably be conscious but delusional. Around 3 minutes you pass out and around 5 minutes you die. You will start suffering brain damage around 2.5 - 3 minutes. Again...these are very loose averages. Some deep sea divers can hold their breath past 4 minutes and still swim around and be coherent but it takes excellent health and a lot of training.

How it feels like...not pleasant. Hold your breath right now for as long as you can. If you don't cheat and don't wimp out you'll find just how unpleasant not breathing can be (don't worry...if you somehow manage to hold your breath long enough to pass out you'll simply start breathing again...just be careful you don't fall when you pass out).

In the movie Red Planet the astronauts are facing imminent suffocation and the medic describes in medical detail what occurs during suffocation. After his diatribe that no one else understands another guy asks him if it'll hurt and he responds, "A lot" (or something like that).

FWIW if you manage to hold your breath long enough the pain will actually cease and you will feel ok and possibly that you actually don't need to breathe. At this point you are getting delusional and unconsciousness is at hand. As you go unconscious you will get tunnel vision and then you're out.

Breathing in water is another issue entirely. A good deep breath of water will send you into shock and then unconsciousness very quickly. It'll probably hurt but not for very long. Unless help is immediately available to resuscitate you this will finish you off in short order.

Personally I've had a few extended underwater breath holding experiences and my opinion is it would be one of the less pleasant ways to die (I imagine burning would be worse). It may all only be a few minutes but those can be LONG minutes when you're in pain.

Mr. Cynical
04-18-2001, 09:08 PM
Another, possibly dramatized, depiction of a death by drowning was in a Discovery Channel special, World's Most Dangerous Jobs : Alaskan Crab Fisherman.

It gave me the willies, that's for sure.

mske
04-18-2001, 09:14 PM
Although it does not perfectly match your question, Cecil's comments on drowning can be found here (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_211.html).

Personally, I always thought drowning would be one of the worst ways to go. The thought of knowing your fate for a good period of time before it actually occurs would be horrifying to me. Give me a shotgun blast to the head any day.

Sylkyn
04-18-2001, 09:30 PM
Oh, I really don't want to know how it is. This is one time I'd rather be "ignorant". (Ignorance is bliss!!!) My father drowned in 1966, at the ripe old age of 36. I would love to think he never felt a thing...and never knew he was dying.


I know this is totally off topic. But I'm really hoping drowning isn't as bad as what is is professed to be. I always "heard" before that it is the same as sleeping...and I really would like to continue to think that. I know in my logical mind that isn't true. But I still want to believe my young father didn't suffer.

Sorry...just the way I feel about it......

exchicagoan
04-18-2001, 10:17 PM
Originally posted by Whack-a-Mole
This is what I remember from some of my scuba classes:

Breathing in water is another issue entirely. A good deep breath of water will send you into shock and then unconsciousness very quickly. It'll probably hurt but not for very long. Unless help is immediately available to resuscitate you this will finish you off in short order.



Thank you. This is something I've wondered about for many years. A grade school friend died at the age of 20 in 1956. He had joined the Navy, was deep-sea diving. "Somebody" had screwed the helmet on improperly.

I'd always imagined that he had panicked and didn't tug on his life-line.

Muffin
04-18-2001, 10:17 PM
I came close to drowning once when stuck under a waterfall while kayaking. It was not painful. It was slow, but since my only hope was for someone to paddle out and retrieve me, I did not really care about it taking so long. The first challenge was was trying to relax and not expend energy. The second challenge was trying not to breathe in. The third challenge was to try to feel for a tow line. Eventually I breathed in just as I was passing out -- the breathing was not voluntary at all. I found that moment incredibly frustrating. Fortunately, I had snagged a tow line prior to this and was pulled out immediately following the ingestion, so no AR was required despite my being passed out. My paddling partner was a paramedic and river guide, so he had me out and coughing up water extremely quickly. I don't have a time on the process, but I estimate it took about two to three minutes from imersion to rescue. There were no long terms effects (I took antibiotics to ward off lung infection) other than a lasting aversion to playing at the base of waterfalls.

Ring
04-18-2001, 10:21 PM
As a kid I came very close to drowning, I had already passed out and had to resuscitated. I remember being very panicky but as soon as I took that first inhalation of water I blacked out. It really wasn't all that bad. It certainly beats being flayed alive, broken on the rack or slow roasted over a pit.

pesch
04-18-2001, 11:34 PM
Same thing happened to me. Looking back at some of the close calls I had, it's a wonder I'm here, mobile and thinking (or so I like to believe).

In this case, I was young (about 5 or 6) and we had gone to the lake for the day. White sandy semi-circular beach, lotsa kids, hot day, etc.

I was out in the water when ahead of me were some kids in a rubber raft. Wow, that looks neat. Maybe I can hang on and ride with them. Maybe climb in.

I remember getting out into deeper water, reaching for the side of the boat, just out of reach. Step, bounce, reach, miss, water up to my chin. Step, bounce, reach, miss, water up over my ears. Step, no bounce, water over my head.

I didn't know how to swim.

That was it. I woke up on the beach, coughing up water and being very, very scared.

My mother, bless her soul, had assigned my brother to keep an eye on me. He saved my ass.

To this day, I can't remember a thing from it. No fear, no pain. Just blacking out. While I suspect it would be different if I tried a Virginia Woolf (sticking rocks in my pocket and jumping into the river), it would be because the anticipation and fear would be far more agonizing than the act itself.

Needless to say, my parents signed me up for swim lessons at the Y soon as we got back.

As a faithful reader of Patrick O'Brian's novels, he has something to say about learning to swim. Most sailors were not in favor of it. They'd rather drown right off rather than hang about in the water, when they knew they were going to drown anyway. Sorta makes sense.

jmonster
04-19-2001, 12:16 AM
Originally posted by pasiphae
Imagine if you can, five 28" TV sets blasting out the theme tune to 'Titanic' over and over and over again....

Oh, I can. I went to visit my girlfriend for my week-long spring break one year, and she and her roommate were in this phase where they thought it was a good idea to set the CD player to auto-repeat the theme from Titanic about 25 times in a row for bedtime music. Also, there was a gigantic poster of Leonardo DiCrapio on the ceiling above her bed. And the nearest boy's restroom was 2 floors down.

Badtz Maru
04-19-2001, 01:54 AM
Originally posted by Whack-a-Mole
This is what I remember from some of my scuba classes:

An average person has about two minutes of useful consciousness whithout breathing. Some people, through training and excellent health, may extend this time considerably. From 2-3 minutes you will probably be conscious but delusional. Around 3 minutes you pass out and around 5 minutes you die. You will start suffering brain damage around 2.5 - 3 minutes. Again...these are very loose averages. Some deep sea divers can hold their breath past 4 minutes and still swim around and be coherent but it takes excellent health and a lot of training.

How it feels like...not pleasant. Hold your breath right now for as long as you can. If you don't cheat and don't wimp out you'll find just how unpleasant not breathing can be (don't worry...if you somehow manage to hold your breath long enough to pass out you'll simply start breathing again...just be careful you don't fall when you pass out).

In the movie Red Planet the astronauts are facing imminent suffocation and the medic describes in medical detail what occurs during suffocation. After his diatribe that no one else understands another guy asks him if it'll hurt and he responds, "A lot" (or something like that).

FWIW if you manage to hold your breath long enough the pain will actually cease and you will feel ok and possibly that you actually don't need to breathe. At this point you are getting delusional and unconsciousness is at hand. As you go unconscious you will get tunnel vision and then you're out.

Breathing in water is another issue entirely. A good deep breath of water will send you into shock and then unconsciousness very quickly. It'll probably hurt but not for very long. Unless help is immediately available to resuscitate you this will finish you off in short order.

Personally I've had a few extended underwater breath holding experiences and my opinion is it would be one of the less pleasant ways to die (I imagine burning would be worse). It may all only be a few minutes but those can be LONG minutes when you're in pain.

I've held my breath for over 3 3/4 minutes before. It didn't take much training at all to be able to do so - when I first became interested in timing how long I could hold my breath I could do a minute easy. Two minutes was pretty uncomfortable but it didn't take me long before I could do that consistently. When I've held my breath longer I did not experience any delusional thinking or loss of mental function, but maybe because I knew I could come up for air whenever it got to be too much, and I worked very hard on relaxing myself to reduce oxygen use (I'd also hyperventilate about 30 seconds before going under).

I think those times you've listed are a bit off. Now, if someone was underwater and not used to holding their breath they might inhale water after a couple of minutes, which of course would end things pretty quick, but I don't think that oxygen deprivation alone would kill them if they weren't allowed to inhale water. With dilligent training it seems going 5 minutes without breath is well within normal human capabilities (magicians and skin divers for sponges and pearls do that a lot) and I don't think it's a case of them conditioning their brain to use less oxygen, I think they've just conditioned themselves to override their breathing reflex. The world record for voluntary holding your breath is over 13 minutes, and people have gone without breathing for far longer involuntarily.

Morrison's Lament
04-19-2001, 03:07 AM
I've always heard that drowning is the most pleasant way to go, I even had a close friend who was so convinced by this that he drowned himself.
Of course I'll never know if he was right, but he based this on the fact that people that are drowning stop struggling a few seconds before they lose consciousness. This lead him (and lot of other people actually) to speculate that all the endorfin stuff in the brain gets released just before the moment of no return.

Of course this may all have been wishful thinking, but I recommend someone look it up in scientific literature, my friend claimed to have read some convincing documents on "the ecstacy of drowning".

--- G. Raven

p.s. if I ever run into him at a seiance (or however you spell it) I'll get back to ya

Broomstick
04-19-2001, 05:00 AM
The OP asked if water temperature had any effect on death from drowning.

Yes, it can.

Very very cold water can knock you out or even kill you before you have a chance to drown. We lose a couple people each year that way to Lake Michigan. When the water temp is in the 30s (several months of the year) if you fall in you'll feel an incredible icy shock, then about 30 seconds later you'll be unconcious. Rapidly falling body temperature will be what kills you, not lack of oxygen. In fact, every winter they seem pull folks out of the water who have been under 20 minutes to an hour and revive them, the cold water having lowered the body's metabolic rate to where the brain doesn't use the body's on board supply of oxygen over that time.

reprise
04-19-2001, 05:32 AM
obviously, the fact that I am still alive and posting means that anything I have to say on this subject is only an opinion.

However, given that my son's degree is in forensic science, I would like to make the comment that as far as the autopsy reports I have read and as far as the post-mortem photographs I have seen go (email me for the links to them if you are really that curious) drowning does not seem to be a particularly traumatic way of dying.

BIG WARNING TO PEOPLE WHO DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE GRUSESOME DETAILS






People who drown essentially die from asphyxiation. (the vast majority of people die from one form of asphyxiation or another anyway) The way that the corpses look doesn't necessarily reflect the trauma involved. Drowned corpses usually look bloated, but in cases of voluntary drowning, there is very little physical evidence of distress. I'm gonna hand this thread over to my son, whose specialty is forensic science. There are ways to measure the trauma involved in the process of death - in general, if you had to pick a way to go, hypothermia would be it.

oh shit - sorry Tuba - I realise that what I just posted is going to be very offensive to some members of this board :(

reprise
04-19-2001, 06:06 AM
for those who are curious - yes I do hold a diver's licence and I am well aware of the effects of nitrogen narcosis. (you can't dive in Australia without a licence - YMMV)

pasiphae
04-19-2001, 09:13 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Whack-a-Mole
[B]This is what I remember from some of my scuba classes:

Thanks Whack-a-Mole! Great post, if a little sobering. :)

pasiphae
04-19-2001, 09:19 AM
Originally posted by SilkyThreat
Oh, I really don't want to know how it is. This is one time I'd rather be "ignorant". (Ignorance is bliss!!!) My father drowned in 1966, at the ripe old age of 36. I would love to think he never felt a thing...and never knew he was dying.

SilkyThreat, I'm very sorry to hear about your Dad. I hope my original question wasn't insensitve or upsetting or painful to read.

pasiphae
04-19-2001, 09:22 AM
Originally posted by mske
Although it does not perfectly match your question, Cecil's comments on drowning can be found here (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_211.html).

Thanks for the link!

Whack-a-Mole
04-19-2001, 09:41 AM
Badtz Maru:

I hear what you are saying and I agree. I did say that my numbers are very loose. That said pick an average person form your office and ask them to hold their breath and I doubt anyone will make it past 2 - 3 minutes.

Part of what helped you was the hyperventilating. My friends never clued in to this trick and I always beat them in breath holding and underwater distance swimming contests. I would also consciously relax which can extend your breath holding a great deal (remarkable how few people know how to do simple relaxation techniques). The other part is simply exercising a little will power when not breathing begins to hurt but putting up with it and going on for awhile longer.

I remember seeing some yoga/contortionist guy cram himself into a little plexiglas box and have himself lowered into a pool on the tv show That's Incredible. I forget how long he was underwater but it was something like 40 minutes (remember there was some air in the box with him so it doesn't count to the record Badtz mentioned). Still, it shows how long the body can extend its use of oxygen with the proper preparation and mindset.

Broomstick wrote:
Very very cold water can knock you out or even kill you before you have a chance to drown. We lose a couple people each year that way to Lake Michigan.

In rare cases cold water can also save your life. In Chicago on at least one occasion a kid fell throught the ice and was underwater for 40+ minutes and was successfully revived. The water essentially put the kid into a cryogenic freeze thus drastically slowing all of his body processes. I saw the kid on tv several months later and he was fine except for having lost a good deal of the use of his right hand (due to severe frost bite) but even that was improving.

That said jumping into cold water is FAR more likely to kill you than save you.

reprise wrote:
I would like to make the comment that as far as the autopsy reports I have read and as far as the post-mortem photographs I have seen go (email me for the links to them if you are really that curious) drowning does not seem to be a particularly traumatic way of dying.

How would trauma show on a drowning victim? Thrashing about in water doesn't cause physical damage. Most of the trauma in this case is in your head as you face your imminent doom. I'd be interested in hearing from your son as I don't see how an autopsy could tell how easy of a time a person had drowning.

Tranquilis
04-19-2001, 09:50 AM
A few years back, a diving medicine specialist did a number of experiments on himself, under fairly controlled conditions, to determine the actual physilogical and mental effects of drowning.

This isn't pretty, so if you'd rather not know, leave now:
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
OK, Here goes:
.
.
.
This physician, a highly qualified diver, set up his experiment in pool, with rescue divers in the water. He wired himself for various parameters (brain activity, heart rate, respiration, and a bunch of others), put on a weight belt, tied his feet together, and started treading water in the pool. Video shows that while this man was a powerfull swimmer, he began to tire very quickly, and as he tired, he began to lose contact withe the surface of the water. Shortly after he began losing the ability to keep head above the surface, his heart-rate skyrocketed, his brainwaves went berserk, and his previously controlled motions became spasmodic and violent. He drowned. The divers pulled him out, revieved him (He wasn't down for long), and then he was debriefed before, and after, watching the video. He then did it again. Many times. Same results each time.

His commentary was that it didn't so much hurt, as it was terrifying, right up to the point where he lost consciousness. Once he lost the ability to reliably get a breath, panic was unavoidable, even with the divers being right there and the knowledge that he'd survived drowning a dozen times or so. It just didn't matter: The only thing happening at that point was 'fight for air'.

So: maybe not painfull, but d*mned unpleasant. Fortunately, it really is quick.

Broomstick
04-19-2001, 08:31 PM
Originally posted by Whack-a-Mole
Broomstick wrote:
Very very cold water can knock you out or even kill you before you have a chance to drown. We lose a couple people each year that way to Lake Michigan.

In rare cases cold water can also save your life. In Chicago on at least one occasion a kid fell throught the ice and was underwater for 40+ minutes and was successfully revived. The water essentially put the kid into a cryogenic freeze thus drastically slowing all of his body processes. I saw the kid on tv several months later and he was fine except for having lost a good deal of the use of his right hand (due to severe frost bite) but even that was improving.

That said jumping into cold water is FAR more likely to kill you than save you.
[/B]

Jimmy Tontolovitchz (spelling is phonetic, probably not accurate for real spelling). He was underwater over two hours (divers had trouble finding him under the ice). Although he eventually fully recovered, it took almost four years in rehab. He was "fine" for TV soundbites in a couple months in that he was walking and talking again, but he was delayed in starting school.

Lil' Jimmy recovered in part because he was so young - he did suffer some brain damage but a toddler can compensate for that in a way adults can't.

Jimmy's dad also went through the ice, was recovered after an hour and a half, and did not survive.

Re-warming a cold-water drowning victim is tricky, since the body chemistry is whacked out. It must be done in a hospital setting. Things like seizures are to be expected. So if you pull 'em out cold and blue let the experts heat 'em up, don't try this at home.

Muffin
04-19-2001, 09:44 PM
Ain't spring paddling in the north a blast! Just when you though you had the drowing aspect covered, along comes the cold water drowing aspect.

Cold water immersion leads to hypothermia, which eventually shuts down the extremeties while keeping the (relatively) warm blood in the body's core. In ice out conditions without wetsuit or drysuit, it starts to make a serious impact after a couple of minutes. As coordination is lost, the ability to self rescue or even assist in being rescued (e.g. hold a rope or the nose of a boat) is also lost. This makes immediate rescue imperative.

In less severe conditions, for example a rainy spring day, the mental process tends to deteriorate over time to the point that people become walking zombies who can't think to help themselves and sometimes refuse assistance from others.

For mild hypothermia (shivering or shivering until recently) external warmth and sugar based warm drinks do the trick, but for serious hypothermia (e.g. thoroughly passed out with cold for quite some time) it is important to not try to attempt rewarming or to jiggle the person for a sudden surge of cold blood from the extremities could cause heart failue.

The best way to avoid hypothermia is to dress appropriately and keep an eye on each other with frequent spot checks. Aside from shivering, watch for slurred speech, lack of cooordination, and general stupidity. The best way I can describe the feeling of moderate hypothermia is that physically it feels like you are very tired and slow moving, while mentally it is almost like being in a a dream or like waking up very groggy.

Just to make things interesting, there is also something called the mammalian dive reflex, which kicks in immediately on some people (particularly young folks) when they pop their head under very cold water. Essentially everything shuts down as blood is directed to the heart and brain -- almost like a sudden paralytic seizure. This can be very problematic, for just when you need the person to cooperate in their own rescue prior to hypothermia becomming a problem, you find that they are unable to move and sometimes even unable to breathe. The best way I can describe the feeling is that it is like a nightmare in which you are lying in front of a car or train which is about to run you down, but there is absolutely nothing you can do to move. The first few times this happened to me I was very scared, for not being able to move while being swept down a river with bergy bits can be a bit unnerving, but eventually I learned to calm down by forcing myself to recall that after about a minute I would be able to move again.

In ice out conditions the combination of dive reflex (the first minute or so) followed by hypothermia (affecting coordination after a couple of minutes) makes the window for rescue quite narrow. This is not that big a deal for experienced, practiced and attentive paddling teams, but unfortunatley is a bit much for most recreational paddlers, who simply are not able to respond quickly and efficiently enough. In short, unless your crew is up to it, wait for warmer water in the season -- every degree counts -- you would be astounded at the difference between swimming in 1 degree water or swimming in 5 degree water. The window for rescue in the first is very narrow, whereas the window for rescue in the second is somewhat limited, but not anywhere near as narrow.

Yes there have been extraordinary examples of people (particularly children) who due to dive reflex and hypothermia have survived lenghty drowning -- essentially the body slows down and blood is directed to the critical areas such as the brain. The flip side of the coin is that an awful lot of folks simply have heart attacks and die when they fall in ice water (although I've only witnessed this once).

For folks who have the misfortune to fall into ice water, try to keep your mouth shut, your head tucked to your shoulder, and your face pointing away from the water when you fall in. This can help reduce the effect of the dive reflex (whatever you do, don't take the cold water shot at the back of your open mouth -- this seems to be a trigger point even more than the face). Then swim like the devil for shore with everything you have. Don't wait a second to collect your wits. Just go for it and do not slow down. This will help you get back to land before you lose coordination (and even will power) from hypothermia, and the heat generated from your effort will buy you some time. Finally, if someone gets a rope to you, wind it around your arm as many times as you can, so that as you lose your ability to function, you don't drift away.

justwannano
04-19-2001, 10:37 PM
I pray to God that it isnít too painful.

My Dad just died from lung cancer. His lungs filled up with fluids. In other words he
drowned.

Air starvation caused him to halucinate so I hope he didnít know what was happening.

I also hope that the air starvation turned off any pain that the morphine hadnít stopped.

Dad struggled a lot and I just donít know if it hurt.

Tranquilis
04-19-2001, 10:48 PM
My Dad just died from lung cancer. His lungs filled up with fluids...


Geez, but that sucks. Terribly sorry for your loss.

My guess is, that (considering what little I know of modern disease management) he didn't suffer any pain for the fluid in his lungs. He most likely fell asleep/lost consciousness, and passsed quietly. Typically, drowning involves violent struggle. The situation you describe is likely to have been managed with various pain killers, and thus much more peacefull. Still not pleasant, and I feel for you and your family.

justwannano
04-19-2001, 11:36 PM
Thank you Tranquillis

This may not be typical but he did fight. Even though he was unconcious his legs would raise up as he tried to suck air.This went on until the last when his lungs were full.
He had a very strong heart.Maybe if he hadn't it wouldn't have lasted as long as it did.

Bboy
04-20-2001, 12:30 AM
mske said:
Personally, I always thought drowning would be one of the worst ways to go. The
thought of knowing your fate for a good period of time before it actually occurs would be horrifying to me. Give me a shotgun blast to the head any day.I'm right with you on that first part, mske.
Ever get a little soda down the ol' wind pipe?, It usually gives me a choking fit that lasts for several excruciating minutes. I find liquids in my trachea to be MOST unpleasant.

The shotgun idea doesn't appeal to me either, though.

Has anyone/everyone seen the mpeg of R. Budd Dwyer shooting himself (in the mouth) on national TV? (It's on the net, and I will refrain from posting a link here, it's easy enough to find if you do a search.) He didn't die any too quickly, and blood gushed from his mouth in waves for some time while his heart pumped him empty. :::Shudder:::

I want to go painlessly, instantly, like a bug on a windshield, or maybe a nightmare that scares me to death before I wake up.

In the OP, pasiphae asks:
Does water temperature effect the onset of death?Phooey, I had a lengthy response all typed and ready to go, and then I see that you all have covered this part of the topic literally to death. No sense beating a drowned horse.

Something to think about: If you look at of pictures of people that were killed in house fires, you should start to notice that many of them leave very clean images where the fire burned around them as they lay perfectly still, and show no signs of struggle. The autopsies often show clean lungs, and that the victims actually died from breathing in toxic fumes associated with incomplete combustion, and death tends to precede the intense smoke and extreme heat of the inferno. They just drift into deeper and deeper states of unconsciousness. Now THAT sounds like the way to go to me.

Badtz Maru
04-20-2001, 02:40 AM
Hmm, I wonder how long I would last in an airtight cube. One time I experimented with slowing my breathing - I took one breath every 30 seconds for over 15 minutes and experienced no ill effects.

Tranquilis
04-20-2001, 08:42 AM
Originally posted by justwannano

He had a very strong heart...


At least you can take some small comfort that you come from tough, courageous stock.