Expert warns of dry drowning - WNEM TV 5

Expert warns of dry drowning

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

"Dry drowning" is creating hysteria among parents on social media.

It's also known as secondary drowning. It is the idea your child could drown on dry land.

"I looked at my husband and I'm like, what is that? I've never heard of that before," said Anneliese Phegley.

The term made national news after a child apparently died from the condition this week after a family vacation in Texas.

"I lost my breath over it you know, just hearing about it. It's a scary, scary thing," Phegley said.

What is dry drowning?

"Water entering the mouth, which causes a spasm in the larynx and the trachea causing basically a suffocation. It happens immediately after somebody comes out of the water. It's a direct spasm from the water going into your mouth," said Zachary Landers, trauma program manager for Genesys Regional Medical Center.

He said another form of dry drowning occurs when swallowed water gets in the lungs. He said your body tries to fight that water with its own fluid, essentially drowning the lungs.

Landers said in either case you have to know the warning signs and act quickly.

"Immediately call for rescue 911 and start CPR if it's indicated," Landers said.

Landers is quick to point out only two percent of all drownings nationwide each year are caused by dry drowning, but you should know the signs.

"Persistent cough, vomiting, color change is a very late sign. If they're starting to turn gray or blue, they're not getting any oxygen. But tiredness, lethargy, those things let you know that they're not getting enough oxygen into their lungs," Landers said.

As for Phegley, she has already talked to her kids about dry drowning. She wants her kids to have fun in the water this summer, but like any concerned parent she said she will keep a close eye on her children.

"I just said if you feel uncomfortable about something, if something hurts, come tell mom. Come tell dad. You know we'll take care of it. We'll get you checked out," Phegley said.

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