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What You Should Know About ‘Dry Drowning’ As Pool Season Starts

Portrait of a young couple in a swimming pool with their son and daughter
courtesy: Purestock

The summer swimming season has started and you might think that you know how to keep your children safe around water. Some good tips are make sure your kids never swim alone or without the supervision of an adult who can swim, take CPR classes so that if an emergency happens, you can perform CPR until emergency crews arrive, and make sure that your child takes swimming lessons.

Something new that parents need to know about is dry drowning. Dry drowning happens after a child has gotten out of the water and it has killed a number of kids recently, although, truth be told, when we were kids, our parents probably didn’t think much of what causes dry drowning.

When a child inhales water, usually a good coughing fit is enough to get it out of their bodies and everything is fine. But when a child inhales water and that water remains in their bodies, it can remain in their lungs and cause swelling. The lungs can become unable to exchange oxygen to and from the blood making blood oxygen levels drop. That can lead to cardiac arrest because the child’s body isn’t carrying enough oxygen.

Dry drowning is often hard to spot, but here are a few warning signs to look out for between one and 24 hours after a child inhales water:

1. Persistent coughing – This could be a sign of your child’s body trying to get rid of the fluid in their lungs. They should be seen by a doctor.
2. Shortness of breath – Is your child breathing quickly and not taking deep breaths? It could be the fluid build up in their lungs. Experts say get the medical help.
3. Chest pain.
4. Lethargy – The sleepiness or fatigue could be a sign of lack of oxygen in the blood.
5. Fever.
6. Unusual mood change – Another sign of lack of oxygen is if your child exhibits signs of forgetfulness or becomes woozy.

If you aren’t sure if your child is in danger, take them to a doctor immediately. The good news is, dry drowning is rare, but again, if you aren’t sure, it’s best to seek medical attention.

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