Dry drowning, what parents need to know

Drowning is a leading cause of death among children, including infants and toddlers. Unfortunately, there's a form of drowning that many people haven't heard of or are misinformed about: dry drowning.

Dr. Erica Michiels, associate director for the Pediatric Emergency Department at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, has seen many families coming into the ED concerned about dry drowning.

Dry drowning is confusing because it's used to describe several different conditions. Parents need to know that if their child had an event in the water, and had difficulty breathing or coughing, they should seek medical attention immediately. However if there are no symptoms within the first 24 hours of the incident, there won't be any.

Parents also need to be aware that children can drown in a very small amount of water, even in a bathtub or kiddie pool.  These accidents often occur from lack of supervision and happen fast.

Dr. Michiels says that the chances of dry drowning are extremely rare, but it's important to know the signs and symptoms in case something happens.

Here are some drowning prevention techniques for parents to keep in mind when they take their kids out to the water:

  1. Be a Water Watcher: Have an adult always watching children in the water.
  2. Provide Children with life jackets if they aren't confident swimmers.
  3. Lead by example: never mix drugs and alcohol with water recreation.

Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Pediatric Emergency Department is available 24/7 for families. For more information call (866)-989-7999 or visit helendevoschildrens.org.

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