The sad headline of the dry drowing of a 10 year old South Carolina boy this week has many parents concerned. With the warm weather here in many parts of our country and summer approaching fast, swimming will be part of many of our kids' lives very, very soon. Before you panic, let me give you some facts and tell you a few things you can do to keep your kids safe.
Dry drowning is very rare. It occurs when enough water enters the lungs to slowly suffocate a person but not so much water that the drowning is immediate. It only occurs by swallowing a great deal of water that goes "down the wrong pipe" to enter the lungs. There is usually a big coughing moment or even choking episode. If you read reports of what occurred with Johnny, he didn't have a normal day at the pool. According to multiple news reports, he had an episode in the pool, complained of being tired and soiled himself. Once home, the sleepiness became more extreme and his mom thought he should nap. A little while after falling asleep, his mother and a family friend noticed a foamy white substance from his mouth and then called 911 - but by then it was too late.
Drownings themselves are not that common with only 3582 a year by recent CDC estimates. Dry drownings are even less common. This occurs when a small amount of water (only 4 ounces is needed) gets into the lungs and then causes a cascade of chemical events leading to the lungs swelling and not working correctly. It can occur up to 24 hours after a child swallows the water and has it enter the lungs.
Experts cite three common signs to look for, that can be difficult to detect in kids: extreme tiredness, respiratory distress and changes in behavior.
For young kids, look for changes from the norm for behavior and fatigue. For older kids, talk to them about water safety and warning signs they should alert a grown up to in themselves of friends. And, make sure everyone understands the need to call 911 and get the child in trouble to an emergency room.
There is nothing worse than facing an emergency with your child. Knowing which medical setting to seek care in and what information to have on hand well before you face any sports-related medical emergency will help you help your child better. Click here to learn more about this important topic.
Finally, where water is concerned, you always have to be careful. Make sure you are up on the latest swimming pool safety guidelines and get your kids swim lessons when they are at least 4 years of age, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.