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Dry drowning: a danger that can occur hours after leaving the pool

Inhaling water can lead to dry drowning, which occurs hours later.

Two children in East Alabama are recovering after nearly drowning this week.

Wednesday a four-year-old had to be airlifted to Birmingham and Tuesday lifeguards at a community pool, in Jacksonville pulled an unconscious child from the water. They successfully performed C.P.R. The child was taken to UAB as a precaution. It's a scary thought but it could happen to your child. Children often swallow water and even breath it in.

ABC 33/40's Patrick Thomas talked with lifeguards about how "taking in" all that water -- can have deadly consequences. Hours and sometimes days after you leave the pool you could still die if you inhaled water. We spoke to two lifeguards today about what dry drowning is and how to avoid it.

During the summer pool safety is a top priority. As lifeguards, Tatum Hinkle and Caroline Adams, know that first hand. Adams explained, "In certain times of the day when it gets really crowded is kinda when we have to be on our game to watch."

But drowning doesn't always occur while swimming. The recent death of a child in Texas raises concerns about dry drowning. Tatum told ABC 33/40 NEWS, "Dry drowning is when you consume too much water at one time."

It can happen after a child breathes in water. It never reaches the lungs but it causes the voice box to spasm. Some signs are trouble breathing, coughing, sleepiness and vomiting. To avoid this happening Adams shared a few tips. "During swim lessons we always tell kids don't drink the water because kids will go under water and try to breath," said Adams. "If we tell them to blow out like they are blowing out a candle or blowing bubbles, that helps so they don't ingest the water."

The Center for Disease Control reports three children die every day as a result of drowning. It's the leading cause of death for children ages one to four outside of birth defects. While dry drowning is rare it's not something to take lightly. "A lot of people don't realize it is happening because it is something that is happening after the fact," stated Adams. But Adams said those subtle tips can save lives, "to prevent dry drowning from happening later."

Dry drownings happen in about 2 % of near drowning incidents.

If you notice any of these symptoms take your child to the doctor right away.


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