Do you know what it looks like when someone is drowning in a pool or beach? If you’ve only seen it happen in the movies or on TV, chances are you don’t.

South Floridians are almost always near a body of water, be it a beach or pool. That’s why it’s important to learn the signs of drowning, which often have little to do with splashing, waving or screaming. Drowning tends to be deadly silent.

The Florida Swimming and Pool Association recently re-tweeted (http://bit.ly/bCVRuJ) an interesting article about how the signs of drowning can be easily missed by the untrained eye. The article is from MarioVittone.com, hosted by Mario Vittone, a veteran of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard and expert on water-related search and rescue techniques.

What you should know:

Florida has the highest accidental drowning death rate in the nation for the 1 to 4 year old age group. Florida is third in the nation for overall drowning death rates between 1999 and 2004, according to the Department of Health.

Approximately 375 children drown each year within 25 yards of a parent. In some of those, the parent is actually watching the child but misses the signs of drowning, according to Centers for Disease Control.

When someone is drowning, they are often physiologically unable to call out because the respiratory system is in control and focuses on breathing first.

When people drown, their mouthes often go above the water and below alternately. They are not above water enough to gain enough air, but to a casual observer it may appear they are taking in oxygen.

A drowning person will not likely wave for help. Their arms will instead naturally extend laterally to press down on the water’s surface. In other words, their arms are to preoccupied to wave for help.

Drowning occurs very quickly. A drowning person may only be able to struggle on the surface or above the surface of water for 20 to 60 seconds before their bodies submerge below the water.

Other signs to look out for include:

Head low in the water, mouth at water level – or head tilted back with mouth open.

Eyes glassy, unfocused.

No movement of legs.

Hyperventilating and gasping.

For more information, visit the Florida Department of Health Website.

What do you say? Have you or your child had a near-drowing experience? Do you have a real-life experience to share? Send an email to dvasquez@sunsentinel.com.