Dry Drowning/informative

Katherine - posted on 06/28/2011 ( 7 moms have responded )




This is more of an informative post than anything. How many of you have heard of this? It sounds terrifying.

It's almost summer (and feels like it in many parts of the U.S.), so this means it's time for me to panic about swimming pools. You see, my own mother panicked about water activities, virtually guaranteeing that I, too, would fear for my children's lives once they put a toe in the water as well. I don't want to be that mom, but I am. My two-year-old is in swimming lessons (which are basically splashing lessons), and my five-year-old has at least learned the basics. But now there's something else I have to worry about, long after the kids have exited the swimming pool: Dry drowning.

A very rare, but deadly, accident where kids' lungs fill up with water while they're swimming (or even bathing), but they don't actually drown until hours later, came to everyone's attention a few years ago. Johnny, a ten-year-old in South Carolina, walked home from the pool with his mother, lay down, and died.

This tragic story sounds as if it couldn't have been prevented. Not without everyone around him knowing the elusive signs of dry, or delayed, drowning. Even then, the signs are so close to actual behavior by kids -- especially toddlers -- it's incredibly difficult to identify a child at risk. With that said, if I ever see any of the following happening in my kids after they've been around water, this freaked out mama is heading to the ER.

Signs of Dry (Delayed) Drowning

Child has a choking, coughing, or near-drowning incident in the water earlier in the day

Child becomes lethargic

Child has mental confusion

Child has dramatic behavior change

Essentially, in a dry drowning situation, the brain is not getting enough oxygen, and the signs above can be a result of that lack of oxygen. Of course if you have a toddler, you can expect him to be tired after a day at the pool. Toddlers aren't known for being particularly clear-headed, and their behavior can change every five minutes.

Which means I won't ever let my children in water if I'm not there monitoring the situation constantly. Which also means, I really don't like going to the pool. So for a mom like me, a weird danger like dry drowning is a reason to worry, even though it's very, very, rare. Some moms worry about sleepovers, I worry about swimming pools. I can't help it, water is my mommy Achilles heel.

Do you worry about dry drowning?



Amber - posted on 06/28/2011




People really need all the facts, and so many just hear scare tactics.

Dry drowning is NOT when you have water in your lungs. It is when you are holding your breath for so long that you cut off oxygen to your brain by some reflex that effects the diaphram, there is no water or air in your lungs (or very little water/air). Hence, the "dry" drowning.

This boy died of *delayed* drowning because he was not treated after nearly drowning, even though he had symptoms. ALL near drowning victims should be treated when they've taken in significant amounts of water and are exhibiting any of the symptoms for it.

"As head of pediatric emergency medicine at MCGHealth in Augusta, Ga., Dr. James Wilde works hard to ease parents' fears. He worries that parents will not understand exactly what happened in the case of the boy from South Carolina and may overreact and be afraid to allow their children to swim.

'News reports made it sound as if the boy drowned in his sleep, but based upon what I read he actually experienced a near drowning incident earlier in the day,' Dr. Wilde says. 'He was still experiencing symptoms of drowning when he got home, and he died when those symptoms went untreated.'

Technically, what the boy experienced was not a dry drowning at all. It was a near-drowning that turned into a complete drowning, also known as a delayed drowning. Dr. Wilde says that worsening respiratory distress is a concern in any case of near-drowning, and it's why anyone who has a near-drowning incident should be closely monitored for at least 24 hours afterward."

Here's the website, it's packed full of good information:



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Lady Heather - posted on 06/29/2011




Shit Kate. I guess I'd better stop worrying about it then or my brain might think me into drowning in my tea! HA.

Kate CP - posted on 06/29/2011




Dry drowning can happen to any one of any age in any setting where your brain THINKS it could drown. What happens is your brain sends a signal to your larynx that you may drown so it clamps shut. The problem with that is it will STAY shut and not allow air into your lungs, either. This is how people can drown in less than an inch of water or in a heavy rain storm.


JuLeah - posted on 06/29/2011




I'd worry more about my daughter being unable to swim on a planet made up of 70% water :)

Lady Heather - posted on 06/29/2011




I think I saw that on Oprah once or some other show, but yeah. It scares the shit out of me. If Freja looks too lethargic after a bath I'm like "omg! Did she somehow swallow some water?" Sometimes I inhale my tea and get scared I'm going to drown in it. No, I'm not kidding. I'm that paranoid.

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