Summer time and the livin’ is easy can be an appropriate mantra for this time of year, but while lakes, rivers and swimming pools are populated with children enjoying summer, parents must be informed of an uncommon but potentially deadly threat…dry drowning. Dry drowning often is improperly diagnosed as a simple stomach bug but can lead to something very severe if you are not familiar with the warning signs.

Dry drowning occurs when a person swallows or inhales water through the mouth or nose making it difficult to breathe. Instead of reaching the lungs, the water goes to the back of the throat causing vocal cords to close and resulting in airways being shut down.  Some cases result in death.

So what can parents do to ensure their children are safe while swimming this summer? If your child has swallowed water while swimming, remember these three easy steps:

1. Detect- Difficulty breathing, vomiting, fatigue, coughing and extreme chest pain are all symptoms of dry drowning. Be sure to properly identify these signs as this could mean saving your child’s life.

2. React- Don’t ignore the potential warning signs. Act quickly and call your doctor or head to the emergency room if necessary. Delaying can lead to worsening symptoms, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

3. You- You and no one else is responsible for your child’s safety. Don’t solely depend on lifeguards or chaperones to keep an eye on your child. Don’t forget, prevention starts with you.

The Centers for Disease Control show that injury drowning is the second leading cause of death for children. The CDC also states that dry drowning makes up about two percent of all drowning cases, which may explain why so many people are not aware of this potentially deadly condition.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offers a free Water Safety online course with tips and videos for parents to view. Click here to access the TPWD information.

Ultimately the best preventative measure for dry drowning is to make sure your kids know how to swim and to have adult supervision wherever kids are swimming, whether it’s a pool, lake, river or the ocean. For more information on dry drowning and water safety, to here and here.