What is dry drowning?
Dry drowning is a type of delayed drowning where a person gets a small amount of water in their nose or mouth and it causes spasms in the airway, leading them to have trouble breathing. Most symptoms of dry drowning will be visible shortly after exposure to water. Dry drowning can happen anywhere water is present — including the pool, hot tub, or even the bathtub.
So is secondary drowning the same thing?
No, but they are similar. With dry drowning, water never reaches the lungs. Secondary drowning occurs when a small amount of water does reach the lungs, but not enough to suffocate the person and cause immediate drowning. This water can cause inflammation and fluid buildup, leading to pulmonary edema. While dry drowning usually takes effect minutes after exiting the water, secondary drowning can occur up to 24 hours or so after the water exposure.
Are there symptoms of dry drowning?
Yes. Shortly after exiting the water, your child could experience any of the following symptoms: coughing, nausea or vomiting, extreme tiredness, irritability, and of course, trouble breathing. If you are worried about your child and feel like they are exhibiting symptoms of dry drowning, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Swimming safety tips
The best tool against drowning — immediate, dry, and secondary — is proper prevention. The pool is one of summer’s greatest pleasures, but also one of its greatest potential dangers. It’s vital that you know all of the swimming safety tips there are to know.
The number one tip for any parent is to always keep eyes on their child. This is easier said than done, but it helps to only allow kids anywhere near the pool area when you are nearby and have a full line of sight. If you go inside to grab a beverage, take your child with you. Align pool furniture to face the pool area so you’ll rarely have your back turned. Also, consider investing in a pool cover, which will help keep anyone from accidentally falling in when you’re not using it.
Of course, it’s nearly impossible to watch your child at all times, and children are by nature extremely curious. Your pool should always be fenced in, and that fence should be at least 4 feet tall. Install childproof latches on all gates, and make sure you remove any ladders if you have an above-ground pool.
LiveScience notes one smart pool safety tip, which is to always maintain a clean pool area - both in and out of the water. Toys, floats, and noodles left in the pool can attract kids and tempt them to jump in, while toys and floats left lying around the pool can pose a tripping hazard. You can’t rely on common pool safety items like floaties or even count of swimming lessons to keep your child from danger, as dry drowning doesn’t require full submersion to be deadly.
While recent news articles may have piqued your anxiety, dry drowning is a relatively uncommon thing - and even if your child is affected, it is not always deadly. But it’s these lesser-known dangers that must be illuminated. Know how to spot the symptoms, and don’t assume that your child is okay just because they’re fine when they get out of the water. Always make sure there are no signs of delayed drowning for at least a few hours — and up to a day — after pool time is over.
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