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Thread: How long does it take to drown?

 


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    CAPTAIN SINBAD's Avatar
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    How long does it take to drown?

    Just curious.

    Lets say that you cant breath underwater and after holding your breath you inhale and take on lung full of water. How many seconds do you have before you pass out or die?
    [countdown=01/15/2011 05:30 am]Count down: [/countdown]

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    Too long...
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    I would hope the individual would pass out before water entered the lungs. We touch on shallow water blackout (holding your breath, diving down and blacking out before you reach the surface) in our OW classes and you need about 1psi of O2 in your lungs to stay conscious. So I'm gonna venture a guess to say you pass out before inhaling water. If you dont, it cant be very long, maybe seconds. Never been there so I can't say for sure.

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    It takes too long for the victim and too short for the bystanders who tend not to realize a drowning is in progress before people are already sunk, because drownings DONT look like baywatch and MOF splashing about like some rescue course scenarios Ive seen. If you can scream and flail, youre actually in pretty good shape, cause you still have no issue with breathing..
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    You have 4 seconds of oxygenated blood in your brain...at least that's what I've always been told, which matches the 4 seconds if you blood choke someone to unconsciousness. So I'd go with 4 seconds before you pass out.

    Dieing is a longer time - 7 or 8 minutes I think is what a medic once told me....
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    Quote Originally Posted by maniago View Post
    You have 4 seconds of oxygenated blood in your brain...at least that's what I've always been told, which matches the 4 seconds if you blood choke someone to unconsciousness. So I'd go with 4 seconds before you pass out.

    Dieing is a longer time - 7 or 8 minutes I think is what a medic once told me....
    A blood choke work somewhat different though, because if done properly it completely cut the circulation of blood to your brain. If you cant breathe, your heart still keep beating for a while and the bloodflow is still unrestricted.
    (And yeah, a blood choke does put you to sleep in seconds, Ive been on both ends of that)
    If your face aint numb.. It aint a cold water dive!
    I wonder if periodic short term exposure to risk can decrease your longterm risk of accidents. I hope it does..

    The best video ever for a diver to watch - The divers ear http://faculty.washington.edu/ekay/
    a lesson learned - Blown o-ring AT DEPTH!: http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/nea...g-depth-o.html
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3D diver View Post
    Too long...
    Not long enough... :p

    ---------- Post added June 24th, 2013 at 07:32 PM ----------

    The actual time until death will vary on a number of things. There have been extraordinary cases where small children have been immersed in ice-cold water for very long periods. (I would quote a number, but Google is not my friend tonight... 20 - 40 minutes perhaps...).

    So age of victim, water temperature, health of the victim prior to drowning, fresh or salt water etc. can all have an effect on survivability. I personally revived a nearly-drowned diver years ago, who might have been without air for four or five minutes. To the best of my knowledge, he was A1 once he recovered.

    All of this is to do more with the factors allowing someone to be revived after "drowning"... I suppose if nobody;s there to save the victim, then perhaps 4 -5 minutes from loss of consciousness...

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    Lots of factors, so it will vary from a few seconds to a few minutes for consciousness, and a bit longer for drowning. Factors include your workload at the time, your overall health, depth and gas mix, how much air you retain in your lungs to name a few. When you stop breathing your heart continues to beat and that circulates oxygenated blood. The longer you go without your lungs being ventilated the less oxygen in your blood, but it takes several minutes with circulation to get your blood so oxygen poor that your brain and then later your heart stop functioning. This is the premise for doing compression only CPR in non-drowning, non-child situations. Almost all of the remaining situations are a circulation not an oxygenation problem initially.

    If you inhale water as you lose consciousness (called wet drowning) you have a whole additional set of problems vs. not inhaling water (dry drowning). The salt water in your lungs pulls your own body fluids into your lungs to dilute the salt water. So in effect you drown in your own fluids after you are removed from the water. This is what happened to the student who nearly died in Monterey during her first OW dive last Nov/Dec. This is why ALL near drowning victims MUST have competent medical evaluation even if they look OK after being revived.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maniago View Post
    You have 4 seconds of oxygenated blood in your brain...at least that's what I've always been told, which matches the 4 seconds if you blood choke someone to unconsciousness. So I'd go with 4 seconds before you pass out.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tigerman View Post
    A blood choke work somewhat different though, because if done properly it completely cut the circulation of blood to your brain. If you cant breathe, your heart still keep beating for a while and the bloodflow is still unrestricted.(And yeah, a blood choke does put you to sleep in seconds, Ive been on both ends of that)
    Tigerman is correct. The primary and immediate effect of an applied "blood choke" (strangulation, as opposed to compression of the laryngopharynx, larynx, or trachea—causing asphyxia) decreases blood flow from the brain (not into). This causes a rapid increase in blood pressure within the brain. The body responds to that increased BP by causing a feint (the vegus nerve being responsible). Strangulation ("blood choke") does not cause complete cessation of blood flow to the brain to cause cerebral ischemia (brain death from insufficient blood flow versus metabolic demand); whilst blood flow can be mostly halted in the carotid arteries and jugular veins, it cannot be prevented in the vertebral arteries. There is disputed medical speculation that 'carotid sinus reflex death' (stimulation of the carotid sinus) plays a role in death from strangulation - this process is speculated to occur where stimulation of the vegus nerve causes sudden cardiac arrest.

    Thus, the 4 (to 7) seconds to unconsciousness associated with a "blood choke" (strangulation) has nothing in common with drowning, nor is it any measure of the duration of blood supply in the brain relevant to metabolic need.

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    Just to be specific, I am not talking about surface drowning where a floating victim is splashing. The math there would be different. I was talking about underwater drowning where there is no way any air can go in and splashing does not add time to your demise.
    [countdown=01/15/2011 05:30 am]Count down: [/countdown]

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