Friday, June 6, 2008

Something to watch out for

With summer fun in full swing, for many the pool is the center of family life.  Our little ones love the water and Mommies keep a watchful eye on their children to ensure safety in the water.  But now there are two little known dangers called dry and delayed drowning. Just this summer a 10-year-old South Carolina boy died from drowning. Only this boy did not die in the water, he drown at his home, in bed, only an hour after coming home from playing at the pool. Medical experts say victims can walk around, talk, even laugh and have deadly amounts of water in their lungs. The young boy's grandmother said upon returning home her grandson bathed and said he felt sleepy and went to take a nap. When they went to awake him an hour later, he was already dead.

Some news outlets labeled this drowning phenomenon a 'dry drowning' but critics say there can not be water in the lungs for a dry drowning. Some believe the South Carolina 4th grader suffered what is called a delayed drowning, because water was found in his lungs. Pediatricians warn against the signs of delayed drowning that parents and care givers should look for after a child has been in the water. Signs of children sputtering and coughing water, fatigue, (which the South Carolina boy exhibited), and also soiling themselves, ( which this young boy did twice after his visit to the pool). It seems these are difficult signs to watch for when most kids wear themselves out at the pool, but doctors caution parents to look for any out of the ordinary signs of stress and respond immediately to the nearest emergency room.

Then there is dry drowning. This can happen when too much water enters the throat. One theory is this rush of liquid into the throat can cause the airway to snap shut. No water enters into the lungs, but no air does either and it causes asphyxiation. Another theory is when someone jumps into very cold water their heart can stop. Dry drowning accounts for 10 to 15 percent of all drowning deaths a year. When you consider 4000 die from drowning every year, this phenomenon accounts for about 400 to 600 of those victims.

To combat the threat of dry drowning doctors say you can teach children to jump into the water with their mouths closed and to learn to enter cold water very slowly. With drowning listed as the second leading cause of death for children, no precaution seems overboard or absurd to protect our littlest swimmers.

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