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Just how big of a risk is dry drowning?

| Jun 23, 2015 | Premises Liability

There are certain locations to which children naturally flock when school is out and the temperature starts rising, including athletic fields, playgrounds and, of course, swimming spots. However, as we’ve discussed in previous posts, parents need to exercise caution when their young ones are swimming at an area pool or local lake.

That’s because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that drowning ranks as the second leading cause of accidental death among children between the ages of one to 14. 

Interestingly enough, however, there is another swimming-related danger of which parents should be aware called secondary drowning or dry drowning.

What is dry drowning?

Dry drowning or secondary drowning is a condition in which children who appear to be doing well after consuming water — perhaps via a near drowning — see their lungs start to fill with fluid.

Does this mean the child is literally drowning outside of a body of water?

According to medical experts, the terms secondary drowning or dry drowning are actually somewhat misleading, as children aren’t really drowning. What really happens is the accidental ingestion of water serves to both irritate and inflame the child’s lungs, spurring the production of fluid and the development of pneumonia .

Is dry drowning common and, if so, are certain children more at risk?

Medical experts indicate that the condition is actually relatively rare and that even though there is really no good way of determining which children will develop it, those with preexisting respiratory conditions (i.e., asthma) are perhaps more at risk.

If a child swallows water, does this mean they need to be taken to the ER immediately?

No. Medical experts state that when children accidentally ingests water, but appear to be okay, there is no need to take them to the ER. However, they indicate that if they begin coughing excessively, have difficulty breathing and/or are breathing faster several hours later, then a trip to the ER may be advisable.

However, given the progressive nature of dry drowning, they also urge parents that they likely don’t need to summon an ambulance or break the land speed record to get their child to the ER.

Those families whose lives have been forever altered by the negligence of a homeowner or property owner — swimming pool accident, animal attack or other dangerous conditions — must understand that they have options for seeking justice.  

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