What You Should Know About Dry Drowning

May 20, 2019

dry drowningAs the warmer summer months approach, so do the fun-filled trips to local pools. Pool parties and cool pool fun can be a highlight of the summer, but it’s also important to know that children are at a higher risk than adults for drowning. About one in five people who die from drowning every day are children 14 and younger, based on a factsheet from the CDC about water safety.

As parents, we want to keep our children safe from harm and it’s important to know about water safety as pools open this Memorial Day weekend. However, we should also be watching out for our child when they get out of the water. Drowning is a risk that can happen, but there are also extensions to traditional drowning that may cause harm – or even death.

Have you ever heard of dry drowning? This occurs after someone has accidentally attempted to inhale water (although it doesn’t enter the lungs) and the vocal cords do not relax. Due to this spasm, air does not enter the lungs, thus mimicking a drowning effect. As parents, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of dry drowning. They are:

  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Persistent Coughing
  • Sleepiness
  • Choking
  • Vomiting

There are ways to avoid this frightening occurrence and lower the risk of water injuries and accidents.

  • Monitor your children around water at all times. It’s important your children know the dangers of the water and learn to swim.
  • Designate an older child or another adult to watch out for everyone with you. Two pairs of eyes are better than one.
  • Own a pool? It’s best to have a barrier around it so no one accidentally falls in. In many jurisdictions, this is also required by law.
  • For the little ones: puddle jumpers, life vests and more. You can never be too careful with floating devices and strong supervision.
  • Don’t put too many rafts in the pool; they can block the surface and your little one might not be able to come up for air quickly enough.
  • Limit pool time. As children grow more tired and less aware, accidents are more likely to Children of all ages benefit from rest and breaks from being in the pool.

In addition, there is also another term referred to as “secondary drowning” where water does reach the lungs but the person slowly drowns over the next 48 hours. You can monitor both types of drowning by looking for the symptoms that we have listed above. If you see any of the symptoms in your child, take them to the emergency room immediately. They will be able to quickly assess the situation and decide the best course of action. There are medical tests and medical options for your loved one that may be experiencing lack of oxygen, so don’t delay when seeking medical care after a presumed dry drowning incident.

Need more information about dry drowning and how to prevent it? Contact the Association of Childcare Physicians by calling (618) 235-2311 or by visiting our website. Dr. Kellow and Dr. Shaw want your children to stay healthy and safe this summer and all year long.