Dry Drowning – Parents Beware

June 5, 2008 at 6:03 pm 1 comment

I just learned about something called “Dry Drowning” and….WOW, that’s scary!  Every parent should know what this is and how to spot it. 

The tragic death of a South Carolina 10-year-old more than an hour after he had gone swimming has focused a spotlight on the little-known phenomenon called “dry drowning” — and warning signs that every parent should be aware of.

“I’ve never known a child could walk around, talk, speak and their lungs be filled with water,”

Crazy?  There are 3 signs to watch for, and 2 of them are difficult to spot, especially in young children and infants.  The first sign is shortness of breath – that’s relatively easy to spot.  If you see this after bathing or swimming, you should watch closely for the next two signs: Extremely tired and Behavior changes. 

These can be hard to spot – if a child has been swimming all day, he’s going to be tired.  It’s a judgement issue.  Remember that it’s “extreme” tiredness and that should help.  The other is changes in behavior – again difficult in younger children.  A common trend is cranky/combative behaviors, but watch for anything.  In this story, an abnormal behavior was having an ‘accident’. 

How common is it?  Of the 3,600 annual drowning cases, about 360 to 390 are dry-drowning.  Meaning, it happens every day.  Since the result is death, tell your friends – this would be a terrible way to lose a child. 

Dr. Rauch admitted, “It is very difficult to pick this up sometimes.” But spotting the warning signs and getting a suspected victim to an emergency room can save a life, he added.

Victims of dry drowning are treated by having a breathing tube inserted so that oxygen can be supplied under pressure to the lungs. “Then we just wait for the lung to heal itself,” he said.

But for Cassandra Jackson, it’s knowledge gained too late. She and Meekins sat in her home, looking at pictures of the bright and happy son who was no more.

“He was very loving, full of life,” the grieving mother said. “That was my little man.”


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