Dry Drowning: Know the Warning Signs

Girl smiling in pool

Recently, the story of a child dying from what is called “dry drowning” took the Internet by storm. Dry drowning occurs when the vocal cords get irritated enough from taking in water through the nose or mouth that they spasm and close.

Secondary drowning is more similar to actual drowning because water is taken into the lungs causing the lungs to swell. However, secondary and dry drowning can both happen outside of the water. Both cause respiratory distress and make it very difficult to breathe, but dry drowning usually occurs within an hour of the incident. Secondary drowning may not occur until up to 24 hours later.

While it’s estimated only 1-2% of drownings are caused by dry drowning, it’s important to know the warning signs:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Repetitive coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Sudden fatigue or drop in energy level

How can you prevent dry drowning?

  • Provide your child with swimming lessons.
  • Enforce water safety through supervision.
  • Don’t let your child swim alone.
  • Encourage the use of flotation devices.

Swimming is a great activity for kids and it’s important to be aware of your child’s behavior, both during and after swimming. Stay educated on how to prevent any type of drowning so you and your children can have a safe and enjoyable summer!



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