Here’s What Every Parent Needs To Know About Dry Drowning

Drowning can happen out of the water too. Watch for these warning signs.

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Drowning is every parent’s greatest fear when it comes to kids having fun splashing around in the summer sun. 

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You’re right to be concerned for your child’s safety while in the water, but it’s also important to educate yourself about dry drowning, which is a little-known form of asphyxiation that can occur out of the water as well.

First of all, let’s quickly establish that dry drowning still involves water.

Dry drowning is similar to what’s known as “secondary drowning,” both of which can be described as a submersion injuries.

“In dry drowning,” according to Parents, “someone takes in a small amount of water through his or her nose and/or mouth, and it causes a spasm in the airway, causing it to close up. In secondary drowning, the little bit of water gets into the lungs and causes inflammation or swelling that makes it difficult or impossible for the body to transfer oxygen to carbon dioxide and vice versa.

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“Dry drowning usually happens soon after exiting the water, but with secondary drowning, there can be a delay of up to 24 hours before the person shows signs of distress. Both can cause trouble breathing and, in worst-case scenarios, death.”

Pay close attention if your child is having difficulty breathing after getting out of water. There are a number of warning signs to pay attention to that may signal that someone is suffering from a submersion injury.

Did your child just get pulled from the water by a lifeguard?

“Any child pulled from the pool needs medical attention,” Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann of St. Louis Children’s Hospital told Parents.

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 “At the very least, call the pediatrician.”

Is your child coughing or having a hard time breathing?

A cough that just won’t stop or labored, shallow breathing that makes it look as though the child is not getting enough oxygen can be a sign that you need to find medical help right away.

Is your child acting strange or showing signs of sleepiness or forgetfulness?

When the body’s bloodstream isn’t getting enough oxygen it can cause extreme fatigue.

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If your child was just running around like a wild thing and suddenly needs to lie down and take a nap after displaying some of the other symptoms, don’t let them fall asleep just yet—call a doctor first.

Did your kid just yack out of the blue?

“Vomiting is a sign of stress from the body as a result of the inflammation and sometimes a lack of oxygen, also from persistent coughing and gagging,” added Dr. Berchelmann.

If you notice any or all of these signs, get in touch with a medical professional immediately.

As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Dry drowning is pretty rare, but proactive prevention is definitely better than needing to call in backup.

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Get your children swimming lessons before they spend much time playing in the water. With the proper training, children can learn to swim before they even learn to walk!

Don’t let children swim or splash around in any body of water without close adult supervision.

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Make sure children are wearing properly fitted flotation devices on boats and in open water.

Have fun this summer swim season, but practice safety first and keep your eyes peeled for the signs of dry drowning when you’re out there.

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