Dry Drowning Warning Signs Don't Make Me Feel Safer

April Peveteaux

dry drowning summer safetyIt's almost summer (and feels like it in many parts of the U.S.), so this means it's time for me to panic about swimming pools. You see, my own mother panicked about water activities, virtually guaranteeing that I, too, would fear for my children's lives once they put a toe in the water as well. I don't want to be that mom, but I am. My two-year-old is in swimming lessons (which are basically splashing lessons), and my five-year-old has at least learned the basics. But now there's something else I have to worry about, long after the kids have exited the swimming pool: Dry drowning.

A very rare, but deadly, accident where kids' lungs fill up with water while they're swimming (or even bathing), but they don't actually drown until hours later, came to everyone's attention a few years ago. Johnny, a ten-year-old in South Carolina, walked home from the pool with his mother, lay down, and died.

This tragic story sounds as if it couldn't have been prevented. Not without everyone around him knowing the elusive signs of dry, or delayed, drowning. Even then, the signs are so close to actual behavior by kids -- especially toddlers -- it's incredibly difficult to identify a child at risk. With that said, if I ever see any of the following happening in my kids after they've been around water, this freaked out mama is heading to the ER.

Signs of Dry (Delayed) Drowning

  • Child has a choking, coughing, or near-drowning incident in the water earlier in the day
  • Child becomes lethargic
  • Child has mental confusion
  • Child has dramatic behavior change

Essentially, in a dry drowning situation, the brain is not getting enough oxygen, and the signs above can be a result of that lack of oxygen. Of course if you have a toddler, you can expect him to be tired after a day at the pool. Toddlers aren't known for being particularly clear-headed, and their behavior can change every five minutes.

Which means I won't ever let my children in water if I'm not there monitoring the situation constantly. Which also means, I really don't like going to the pool. So for a mom like me, a weird danger like dry drowning is a reason to worry, even though it's very, very, rare. Some moms worry about sleepovers, I worry about swimming pools. I can't help it, water is my mommy Achilles heel.

Do you worry about dry drowning?

Image via dameetch/Flickr

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