The Truth about Dry Drowning

It’s summertime and more than any other time of the year children are hitting the pool! And why not?! It’s fun, great exercise and entertaining! However, what every parent and caregiver needs to do is be extra vigilant when it comes to kids and water. Whether at a pool, lake, water park or the beach, each year we hear the stats, and it’s alarming and devastating.

This season the focus seems to be on “dry drowning,” a term that not everyone is as familiar with and one that comes with a good bit of controversy. Though it isn’t an officially recognized “medical-term,” and most emergency rooms will deem it “secondary drowning” or “non-fatal drowning,” parents still need need to know signs and symptoms of complications after swimming to be aware of. Symptoms like a persistent cough, fatigue and vomiting do need to be seen and evaluated by a physician.

I teamed up with AMHQ, The Weather Channel, to talk about dry drowning–what to look for and of course, prevention. In case you missed the segment; here are the facts!
  • In cases like this – 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.
  • It usually happens soon after exiting the water, which can lead to trouble breathing and, in worst-case scenarios, death.
  • Warning signs include:
    • Persistent Coughing
    • Working hard to catch their breath
    • Sudden fatigue (which can could mean not enough oxygen is getting into their blood)
    • Forgetfulness or change in behavior (due to a dip in oxygen levels)
    • Vomiting, also due to lack of oxygen
  • If you see any of these signs, call the pediatrician right away for advice who may might advise you to go to the ER depending on the severity of the symptoms
  • The doctor will check the child’s vital signs, oxygen level, and work of breathing. The goal will be to increase blood flow in the lungs and get the child breathing well again.
  • Prevention is the same for dry drowning as it is for any other kind of drowning. Supervision and water safety measures are key.
  • Children should always wear flotation devices in pools and have adults nearby and actively watching them.
  • Encourage and enroll your child in swim lessons.
  • Luckily, this is quite rare and only accounts for about 1 to 2 percent of drowning incidents.