Secondary Drowning

What Is Secondary Drowning?

Summer break is a great time to kick back and relax poolside as the kids play in the water. However, it is important to remember that every year there are numerous reports of children drowning. And, they don’t even have to be in the water to drown. There have been multiple reports of children drowning outside the water in “dry drowning” or “secondary drowning” occurrences. Dry drowning generally occurs within the first hour after a water scare, while secondary drowning can take hours or even days to develop. You can find more information about dry drowning here

Secondary or delayed drowning occurs when the child inhales water and it causes inflammation and edema. This can take place over a period of several hours or several days, depending on the severity of the inflammation. Death from delayed drowning happens when the small air sacs in the lungs swell, which prevents oxygen from entering a person’s blood. 

Some of the symptoms you may witness with dry drowning are difficulty breathing, persistent cough, choking, lethargy or sleepiness, irritability and vomiting. 

Secondary drowning is extremely rare. Unfortunately, drowning continues to be the biggest pool-related danger for children. 

Here are some things you can do to ensure your children stay safe in the water and enjoy their summer. 

  • Always supervise children under 4 years old in any body of water, including the bath. 
  • Passengers of all ages should wear lifejackets while boating.
  • Consider taking an infant CPR class if you frequently supervise children at the pool or the beach.
  • Invest in swimming lessons for yourself and your children.
  • Keep pool gates closed at all times.
  • Don’t swim or play near the ocean without a lifeguard present. 
  • Monitor all children around water at all times. Have a designated child watcher who is sober.
  • Always keep a barrier around your pool with a self-latching gate.



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