As the summer heat starts to pick up across the country, kids will likely head toward water — and that means parents and guardians should be aware of a rare phenomenon called “secondary drowning,” or “dry drowning.”
Drowning statistics for children are alarming to say the least, and this summer doctors are warning those dangers even extend outside the pool.
According to a doctor quoted by KUSA, “dry” or “secondary drowning” usually occurs when kids are splashing and goofing off, and “water is inhaled into the lungs.”
WebMD says these “dry drownings” only account for 1-2 percent of all drowning deaths, but the dangers are very real and can occur suddenly anytime up to 24 hours after kids leave the water.
REPORTER: “If not caught in time, decreased oxygen can cause the heart to stop.”
DR. STEPHEN EPSTEIN: “It takes a surprisingly small amount of fluid to actually cause damage to the lungs. In a child, it can be as little as a quarter of a can of soda.”
One Kansas City mother, whose daughter was saved from secondary drowning, told KCTV that the potentially fatal attack came out of nowhere.
“She seemed totally fine. We went shopping afterward, had lunch, went back, laid her down for a nap … that’s when she started gagging and was losing breath … because she had water coming out of her nose and her mouth.”
Another mom wrote this detailed blog that’s getting a lot media attention called Delighted Momma where she says her son “didn’t seem like himself” at home.
“It could have just been chalked up to him being overly tired but I felt in my gut that it was something else. He also started doing this weird cough that made him tense up every time he exerted the effort.”
Those two examples are right in line with what WebMD says are signs of secondary or dry drowning: difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing, sudden mood changes and extreme fatigue.
Doctors say the best way to prevent secondary drowning is to use extra caution around the pool, be on alert and teach the really little ones to “blow water out” when splashed. It also certainly helps to know CPR.
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