Dry Drowning

Updated on June 30, 2008
P.B. asks from Fitchburg, MA
6 answers

Has anyone heard of dry drowning? I saw a story on the today show and now my head is spinning, worrying about it. I guess you can die up to 24 hours later after inhaling a small amount of water that gets into your lungs..... I have a toddler who loves being in the water and now I am freaking out about him using the pool. Can anyone offer some insight?

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answers from Boston on

Thanks for bringing this up. Millions of children swim safely every summer, but I recently witnessed a near-drowning and will say from that experience that it can happen very easily, even with careful adult supervision.

These articles might be helpful:

(the original news story)

This clarifies what happened and has some other helpful information for parents worried about drowning, most importantly that this boy experienced delayed/secondary drowning, which is far less common than true dry drowning.

The last two paragraphs of the snopes article provide lots of useful advice for parents.

The CDC also provides good info on preventing drowning:

There are three main things to watch for:
- breathing problems
- extreme fatigue
- other change in behavior

Drowning is usually a silent occurrence, especially with young children - don't expect to hear splashing or struggling, they just go under and don't come up.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on


I taught teens and adults for years water safety for the red cross. Here is the deal on water and drowning.

An infant or toddler can drown in 2 inches of water. Even in your bath tub or baby pool. Their brains are not equipped to know to pull up when their little noses sink below the water line. I witnessed my sister bathing with her 8 month old that she thought she was just being quiet when in reality the tub was too deep and the baby was wide eyed and struggling to breath.

Water can be a great soothing tool for children. It is also something to be extremely cautious around. Remember when we were little and would swim from dawn until dusk? You would try and take a deep breath but could not. My mother would say we were water logged. The reason for this is simple. Children try and hold their breath too long and end up inhaling water. Plain water is not harmful in this instance. However if a victim of a near drowning accident does not seek medical attention they can suffer secondary drowning. There are chemicals in pools that cause the lining of the lungs to expand and suffocate the victim hours after a near drowning incident. Regular every day swimming is not going to induce this kind of reaction. Someone who has left over volumes of water in their lungs and is conscious needs to be rushed to a hospital. For the reasons I mentioned before.

Be cautious and informed about letting your children wear water wings or any kind of device that supports them in water. Children forget they took these devices off and can find themselves in deep water in a whole lot of trouble. I have a friend who allowed her 7 year old girl float around in the deep end on a noodle. The little girl jumped in from the edge the noodle went flying and she was drowning. She did take her to a hospital because she had been swallowing and inhaling water for an undetermined time. The doctors told her if she had not reacted so quickly her daughter could of suffered secondary drowning.

Remember one thing if not anything. Once a child has drowned. You have 2 minutes to restore her to a breathing status before brain damage begins. Keep up your CPR certification. Know what to do if your child becomes unconscious. Many friends pools are nice but how many of the people that own them know how to save a life?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Hello P.. I have children ages 13 years, 10 years, and 18 months. They have all taken in their fare shares of water at our pool and beaches. That news report about that boy sadly having dies from 'dry-drowning' also said that certain people seem more likely to be susceptible to dry drowning. The things they said to watch for is sudden extreme tiredness...I say check their heartbeat...and don't be afraid to call the doctor if anything seems amiss. -M.-



answers from Boston on

calm down as long as you are supervising your little one he should be fine.



answers from Boston on

I saw the same story. I can only say that i come from a family of ten kids, we all swim, all our offspring swim , including my 2 kids. We have always had a pool. as i have an inground now. My 5 yr old takes in more water than a thirsty elephant at times. and i have never seen anyone drown (dry or wet). I say it is very rare, unusual but something to watch. Just make sure your child doesnt aspirate on the water and let him have fun....As he grows, make sure he learns how to properly breath and keep water out of his airway. he will be fine....good luck



answers from Hartford on

I recently read the story that you are talking about and panicked myself. I am a member to a swim club in my neighborhood and now wonder if it was the smart thing to do.

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