Ever heard of dry drowning and secondary drowning? Most people haven’t, but they’re just as scary as they sound. It’s important to learn how to recognize them and act when they happen! A child can seem fine after getting out of a pool or body of water, and you probably assume that once your child is done swimming or playing in the water, any risk of drowning is over. Not necessarily. Dry and secondary drowning can happen up to an hour or even 24 hours later. These types of drowning can result after an individual breathes in water when getting dunked or struggling while swimming. Although victims can be all ages, kids are more frequent victims because of their small size. While it’s not fun to think about it happening to your own kid, it’s important to be aware of the signs – as well as a few prevention strategies – so you can relax and enjoy the water with your family this summer.
Dry drowning can happen when a small amount of water gets through the nose and/or mouth, but never reaches the lungs. This water causes airways and vocal cords to spasm and close up after the person has left the water. Due to the shutting of the airways, victims have trouble breathing. Dry drowning usually happens right after an incident in the water, or after leaving the water.
Secondary drowning is a little bit different. Airways open up, causing a small amount of water to enter the lungs, where it accumulates, causing swelling and inflammation and a condition called pulmonary edema. This impedes the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body. Secondary drowning generally starts later and can be delayed for hours before signs of distress appear, usually within one to 24 hours of the incident.
Take steps to keep your child safe, so you won’t have to experience constant stress about dry or secondary drowning. The biggest three things you can do are: ensure your kids are confident and capable swimmers, keep them under close supervision when around water, and follow basic water safety tips.
Although both dry and secondary drowning rare and account for only a small number of all drowning incidents, they can be hard to spot, making them dangerous. It’s important to recognize the symptoms to keep you and your family safe after a day at the beach.