Tag Archives: water

Drowning Is Anything But Dramatic

Here’s the deal, dudes. As summer comes on, more and more of us will be out on the water. As a parent, I found this article to be quite timely.

It also managed to scare the snot out of me. My family and I are big beach folks. For a week every summer, we head down to Florida’s Crescent Beach and frolic, enjoying fun in the sun in the waves and surf.

I thought I was prepared. I thought I knew what I needed to watch for to keep my kids safe.

I was an idiot, as this recent article in Slate will show.

The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the couple swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine; what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not 10 feet away, their 9-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”

How did this captain know—from 50 feet away—what the father couldn’t recognize from just 10? Drowning is not the violent, splashing call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew know what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life.

Yeah, I know. Frightened the heck out of me, too, dudes.

There’s this thing called the Instinctive Drowning Response—so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., and it’s what people do when they’re actually drowning. And it doesn’t involve waving their arms and shouting and making a fuss so they can be seen by the hot lifeguard and dramatically rescued.

Drowning victims actually are very quiet. Breathing comes first, before speaking. If you can’t breathe, you’re not going to be talking or shouting. They are incapable of actually waving their arms as said arms are locked out to their sides and instinctively pushing down on the water to try and keep their mouth in the air and not the water. They can’t stop drowning and perform voluntary movements like trying to attract attention.

From start to finish, the Instinctive Drowning Response will mean that the victim usually is upright in the water, quietly drowning with no evidence of a supporting kick.

According to Dr. Pia and rescue experts, there are a number of things to look for in a drowning victim.

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs—vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back

The most important thing, though, is when you’re around the water, stay observant. Make sure you know where your children are, where everyone in your party is. If they’re in trouble, you won’t hear it. So it’s up to you to be aware.

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Not Just A Boring Hole In The Ground


This right here. It’s really not just a boring hole in the ground. It’s a boring hole in the ground. . . on Mars!

As you should know, we sent the Curiosity rover up to Mars a while back and used a jet-assisted aerial crane to lower the rover to the surface of the planet. Which was the epitome of cool, the apex of awesome.

Now Curiosity is doing what it’s supposed to be doing: It’s roving the surface of Mars and conducting some rather remarkable scientific experiments. And just last week it did something no other object of person has ever done. Curiosity went and drilled a hole on another planet.

Sure it’s probably the most boring-sounding bit of awesome ever, but it’s the last bit, the another planet bit that makes it top out on the awesometer.

Just look at this thing.


Curiosity is doing all the drilling so it can grab some of the previously unexposed rocks and begin chemically evaluating them, subjecting them to laser analysis and stuff like that.

We’re looking for evidence that there once was free water on the surface of Mars and to answer the age-old question: Was there ever life on Mars beyond tiny single-celled organisms?

And were they cold, calculating intellects looking on the planet Earth with disdain and longing?

Odds are, probably no.

Still, I just can’t get enough of the supremely cool pictures that Curiosity keeps sending back from Mars. We can look at the pictures and see that it’s only a dry, rocky soil with a slightly reddish hue. No big dealie.

Until we remember just how that picture was taken, where it was taken and what it had to go through to get back to us.

I made sure to download this picture to my phone. I’ve got a group of students at Awesome Elementary School who are doing research reports on the solar system. I showed this picture to one of the students there and she simply shrugged her shoulders until I explained where the picture came from. Then she was riveted and called over some of her friends to take a look.

To stare at a picture taken on another planet, by looking into the slab of technology I pulled from my pocket and used to display photographs.

Truly, we’re living in a remarkable age. I only wish it were a little later in said age so I could take advantage of it. Yes, dudes, I’m still whining about not getting a chance to walk on an alien planet.

Until I can stop whining and actually accomplish my dream, I’ll keep seeking out these sorts of pictures and staring at them in wonder and awe.

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Blowin’ Stuff Up For Fun: Family Style

by Richard

Dudes, I had just about the best night a couple of days ago. For some reason, my youngest little dude, Hyper Lad, had been hitting the you tubes and watching videos on how to blow stuff up. .  . with science!

Blowin’ stuff up. It’s okay if it’s done for science. Not just for fun. The fun is a nice side effect. But, no, it’s really for science. I mean, come on, that’s the whole reasoning behind the Mythbusters television show on Discovery Channel.

Hey, if it’s good enough for Jamie and Adam, it’s good enough for everyone living in Casa de Dude.

So, anyway.

Hyper Lad was watching a couple of videos of dudes doing things with solid carbon dioxide, also known as dry ice. This is carbon dioxide, which normally is a gas at room temperature, that’s been frozen to temperatures below that at which water freezes, until it’s solid. When left exposed to air, the carbon dioxide will sublimate directly from a solid to a gas, without going through a liquid stage, the way ice does.

This leads us to some very interesting properties, with some quite interesting side effects. For one thing, put dry ice in a bucket of water and you’ve got instant fog.

Put some dry ice chips in a plastic bottle of water and then seal the water bottle and, well, you’ve got something quite different than you had when the dry ice and water were separate. Now you’ve got a bit of a bomb.

But I’ll get back to that.

She Who Must Be Obeyed happened to watch a few of the videos with Hyper Lad and thought it would be a good idea to — sometime — maybe mess around with the dry ice. Of course, Hyper Lad took that to mean it was an order and we should go out and get some dry ice as soon as possible. Which he and I did.

So we got the dry ice and horsed around a bit, putting it in water that had lots of dish soap bubbles in it and making dry ice bubbles. Watched the chips spin in bowls of water. All that sort of stuff. It was fun.

And then Hyper Lad brought out the water bottle.

Now, She Who Must Be Shielded From Any Possible Explosions and I followed Hyper Lad out onto the back deck, thinking it would be some little thing, not really worth all the fuss. We started laughing when Hyper Lad capped the water bottle and then threw it out onto the lawn and stepped back. We laughed and laughed and lau–

The bottle exploded. Well, not so much exploded as forcibly separate itself from its cap, releasing all the accumulated vapor in one loud detonation. The bottle shot one way, the cap another and She Who Must Be Able To Leap Four Feet From A Standing Start still another.

Sure, I was startled by the explosion, but she just freaked the heck right out. It was awesome. It was almost as good as the time I took her to see Aliens after I’d already seen it and knew the scary parts during which she’d really hate to have a sudden hand to the back of her neck.

It was freakin’ amazing. Sarcasmo joined in and we filled up another couple of bottles and watched another couple of explosions.

Fun with science and explosions. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Go for it, dudes and dudettes. Be the adult supervision you always wanted when you were a young dude and let’s blow some stuff up.

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