The tragic death of a South Carolina 10-year-old more than an hour after he had gone swimming has focused a spotlight on the little-known phenomenon called “dry drowning” — and warning signs that every parent should be aware of.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, some 3,600 people drowned in 2005, the most recent year for which there are statistics. Some 10 to 15 percent of those deaths was classified as “dry drowning,” which can occur up to 24 hours after a small amount of water gets into the lungs. In children, that can happen during a bath.
Dr. Daniel Rauch, a pediatrician from New York University Langone Medical Center, told Today Show about the signs that parents should look for.
- Because dry drowning is a lung process, difficulty breathing is the first sign that you would be worried about.
- The second sign is extreme fatigue, which is sometimes hard to detect. “The job of the lungs is to get oxygen into the blood and your brain needs oxygen to keep working, so when your brain isn’t getting oxygen, it can start doing funny things. One of them is becoming excessively tired, losing consciousness and the inability to be aroused appropriately,” Dr. Rauch said.
- Change in Behavior is also tough to spot when dealing with very small children, whose moods and behavior can change from one minute to the next.