Dry and Secondary Drowning

Dry Drowning. Secondary Drowning.

If as most parents do, you think that once your children is finished swimming and playing in your pool, his or her risk of being drown is then over. Wrong dry or secondary drowning can occur even hours after they dried off and gone on to other adventures. There are a few steps you may take to keep your children safe.

This type of drowning can happen after your children have taken water into their lungs. Sometimes this can happen when they are struggling while swimming.  But it can also be as a result of something far more simple, getting water in their mouths or getting dunked.

It can happen with adults as well, but is far more common in children because of their size.

With dry drowning, the water does not have to reach the child’s lungs. Instead, the breathing of the water can cause your children’s vocal chords to go into spasm and close after they already finished swimming the pool. That can shut off their airways, making it very difficult to breathe.

Secondary drowning is a little bit different. Children’s airways can open up, letting water into their lungs where it can build up, causing something called pulmonary edema. With this the end result is the similar to dry drowning trouble breathing.

The symptoms of dry drowning normally happen straight after any incident in the pool. Secondary drowning can start much later, usually within 1 to 24 hours after the incident.

Both of these events are very rare. They will make up only 1% to 2% of all drowning the incidents.


Both dry and secondary drowning’s can have similar symptoms.

These could include.

  • Coughing.
  • Chest pains.
  • Trouble with breathing.
  • And feeling extremely tired.

What to Do

If your children show any signs of dry or secondary drowning, get them to medical help immediately. Although in most cases the symptoms will ware off on their own, it is extremely important to have them looked at my a professional.

A child might also show some changes in their normal behavior like being irritable or have a decline in their energy levels, these could mean that their brains are not getting sufficient oxygen.


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