Drowning is a major cause of accidental death for young children and can occur in just centimeters of water. You may not be aware that there are different types of drownings.
"Dry drowning is a small subset of all drownings. It is where there is not a significant amount of water ingested into the lungs," states Dr. Thad Golden, Pulmonologist with Grand Strand Health. The water causes the vocal cords or airway to spasm so watching for ongoing coughing or wheezing after a near drowning episode is important. "It is more common in people who have asthma or reactive airways disease," expresses Dr. Golden.
Another type of drowning is secondary drowning; however, it is not as common but can occur. "Secondary drowning is a term used when a person has a near drowning episode and seems ok only to have a problem later," said Dr. Golden. "This is caused by pulmonary edema." Symptoms include persistent cough, shortness of breath or chest tightness after a near drowning event. It may be more common in people with heart conditions but can happen to anyone.
Dr. Golden wants to remind everyone that all significant near drownings events should be seen by medical personnel.
However, drowning is not the only risk; many of the different water activities families choose come with their own opportunities for disaster. Use these tips to keep your family safe wherever you choose to make a splash before summer ends.
- Private home pools should be enclosed with a safety fence that measures at least four feet high and has a self-latching gate.
- Never use a mobile device, even at home, while supervising children swimming.
- Use diapers designed for use in the water. They do not get as heavy and they help prevent the spread of germs.
- Prevent children from diving through water toys to help prevent a spinal cord injury.
- The law requires everyone on board to have a life jacket available on the boat. Always wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket no matter how well you can swim.*
- Each life jacket should fit the family member based on their height and weight.
- Remind children to keep all body parts inside the boat at all times.
- While swimming near a boat, keep children away from the motor, even if the boat's motor is not running.
- wimming aides (i.e. water wings and noodles) are fun toys, but should never be used in place of a Coast Guard approved life jacket.*
Ocean, Lakes and Other Bodies of Water
- As Dr. Golden reminds us, use a buddy system especially in the ocean.
- Always enforce the rule that children must inform a parent or supervising adult before they go swimming.
- Another rule for children around bodies of water, especially older ones swimming, is that they must be able to see the supervising adult at all times.
- When jumping into natural bodies of water, always jump feet first and be aware of sandbars and other hidden objects in the water.
- Swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. Be aware of uneven surfaces, currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
- Rip currents are a natural treadmill that travels an average speed of 1-2 feet per second, but can travel faster.**
- Relax and float to conserve energy. Staying calm can save your life.
- Do NOT try to swim directly into shore. Swim along the shoreline until you escape the current's pull. Once free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward the shore.
Other Water Safety Tips
- Don't swim intoxicated.
- If children are playing in a sprinkler, pay attention to how slippery the ground is. Move the sprinkler frequently or take a break until the water can soak in.
- It's never too late to take swimming lessons at any age. Enter children in water safety and swimming lessons by the time they are four.
- Keep the arms-reach rule with toddlers when around water. This includes bath tubs and beaches, as well as other bodies of water.
*Source Safe Kids
**Source National Weather Service