Here are the major signs a child may be drowning, and they may be dramatically different than what you expect:
There will be no call for help: If you can’t breathe, you can’t speak or yell.
You may see their mouths sinking and bobbing back up repeatedly: If you see bobbing going on, you should check on the kid who is doing it. He could be in distress and you might be missing the signs.
They won’t be waving for help: Their instinct is to use their hands to pull their mouths out of the water so they can breathe, not wave for help.
They won’t be able to help their rescuer: They won’t be able to call attention to themselves, grab onto rescue equipment, or reach out for a lifeguard.
They are upright in the water and may not be kicking: If you see a child who is upright and not kicking, along with any of these other signs, get to them as soon as possible.
The incident happens quickly: A person who is drowning doesn’t have much time -- they can only struggle for 20 to 60 seconds before they go under.
A child isn’t making any noise: As every parent can tell you, children who are playing in the water make a lot of noise. If your child can’t be heard anymore when she’s playing in the water, assume something is wrong.