Kadlec physician said, “dry-drowning isn’t really a thing.”
RICHLAND, Wash. — With summer fun, there comes the risk of accidents happening in the water. Keeping an eye out on children is important when they’re out swimming, in a pool or a river. The terms ‘dry-drowning’ and ‘secondary drowning,’ one Kadlec physician called ‘out-dated.’
“We try and go away from dry-drowning, secondary drowning, active drowning, passive drowning. Those are all terms to just confuse people. We don’t use that in the ER world,” Dr. Wen said, an emergency medicine physician with Kadlec Regional Medical Center.
She said rumors on social media have sparked major concern for parents when it comes to their children inhaling water. She said typically, it’s not something to worry about.
Scott Ruppelius, a long-time volunteer and public information officer with the Columbia Basin Dive Rescue, agrees.
“If they’re just coughing up water, they got water in their stomach, and they’re getting rid of water that way, they’re probably okay,” Ruppelius said.
Dr. Wen said, “If there’s going to be concern, it’s going to be immediately after the initial episode in which they inhale the water, they start coughing, they continue to cough, they start showing signs of difficulty breathing.”
Children swallowing water — when should people be worried?
“As long as (symptoms are) not continuing, they’re probably fine,” Dr. Wen said.
Both said that if the breathing issues persist, that’s when there is a problem.
“If they’re having problems breathing, you know, again, take them to the emergency medical room immediately,” Ruppelius said.
These professionals recommended following proper water safety procedures, which they said will help prevent these incidents from happening in the first place.
“The main thing there is wearing life jackets. I know, they’re not cool, and you know, the hip thing to do,” Ruppelius said.
He also said, “Enroll your kids in the, you know, approved swimming class that’ll give them confidence around the water.”
Dr. Wen said drowning related incidents are the number one cause of pediatric deaths. “So it’s a very big thing to be taken seriously. But dry-drowning is not,” she said.
They said dry-drowning isn’t something people should be worried about. But that doesn’t mean you should disregard water safety.
Kadlec provides CPR certification classes throughout the year.
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