If you’re like most parents, you probably figure once your child is done swimming or playing in the water, his risk of drowning is over. But “dry” and “secondary” drowning can happen hours after he’s toweled off and moved on to other things.
These types of drowning can happen when your child breathes water into his lungs. Sometimes that happens when he’s struggling while swimming. But it can be a result of something as simple as getting water in his mouth or getting dunked. It’s more common in kids because of their small size
With dry drowning, water never reaches the lungs. Instead, breathing in water causes your child’s vocal chords to spasm and close up after he’s already left the pool, ocean, or lake. That shuts off his airways, making it hard to breathe.
Secondary drowning happens a little bit differently. Your child’s airways open up, letting water into his lungs where it builds up, causing a condition called pulmonary edema. Both events are very rare, making up only 1%-2% of all drowning incidents. But the end result is the same: trouble breathing.
Symptoms of dry drowning usually happen right after any incident in the water. Secondary drowning generally starts 1 to 14 hours later.
Dry drowning and secondary drowning have the same symptoms, including:
Feeling extremely tired
Your child may also have changes in behavior such as such as irritability or a drop in energy levels, which could mean the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen. If your child has any signs of dry drowning and secondary drowning, get medical help right away — take your child to the emergency room, not your pediatrician’s office.
Follow these tips to protect your children when they swim:
· Always watch then closely when they’re in or around water.
· Only allow them to swim in areas that have lifeguards.
· Never let them swim alone.
· Keep a close eye on children for 24 hours if he or she had any problems in the water.
· Enroll yourself and your children in water-safety classes. There are even programs that introduce children 6 months to 3 years of age to the water.
· Teenagers are more likely to have drowning incidents that are related to drugs and alcohol, so teach them about those risks.
If you have a pool at your home, make sure it’s completely fenced. And don’t let your guard down just because the water isn’t deep. Drowning can occur in any kind of water — bathtubs, toilet bowls, ponds, or small plastic pools.