Precautions for the Summer – Don’t Hold Your Breath

As summer is approaching, most of us are planning days to go to the pool. Swimming is a sport that is perfect for the summer; it provides the cooling effect that people crave in the summer heat and the number of water games that have been invented make swimming a fun sport and pastime. However, these water games can lead to certain consequences, the most severe being death.

When children go to the pool, whether that be at the nearest YMCA, summer camp, or their friend’s backyard, there will always be that one game of “Who can hold their breath the longest?” This particular behavior, called the “dangerous underwater breath-holding behavior” by the CDC, is the leading cause of drowning. Unfortunately, some people do not survive after they are found underwater. This does not only occur in community pools; military academies witness this every year. In 2011, students performed intentional breath-holding exercises. After a while, the two drowned by performing this exercise. Most people, after hearing the warning from the CDC, think it is a harmless activity to hold their breath underwater, but the Center of Disease Control and Prevention has evidence proving that this is dangerous.

Normal breathing consists of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. By holding your breath, you are pushing the carbon dioxide out of your body, making it almost irresistible to take a breath. The people that hold their breath underwater may have done it regularly to hold their breath for a long time, but once that breath is taken underwater, they can drown in a matter of seconds. This happens to ten people everyday. Accidental drowning is also the second leading cause of death, immediately following car accidents.

In movies, when we see people drown, it is definitely a false depiction of what truly happens; no one flails their arms around and screams for help when they are drowning. There are key signs that will indicate whether or not the person is drowning: if their mouth is at water level, their head is tilted back, their eyes closed or glassy, or if they cannot talk.

Next time you head to the pool, advise the swimmers around you to not take part in the “breath-holding olympics” because it is a health hazard. This simple precaution can save hundreds of lives and the statistics of this terrible cause of death can decrease dramatically.


“Don’t Hold Your Breath: CDC Reports on Pool Accidents.” NBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2015.

“Breath-holding Games Are Killing Swimmers, CDC Warns – Local 12 WKRC-TV Cincinnati – News – Top Stories.” Local 12 WKRC-TV Cincinnati. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2015.


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