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Secondary Drowning did you cover this safety risk at work and at Home?

It is almost the Christmas break that means R&R time with the kids and families and that could mean the pool!



Drowning is defined as respiratory impairment from being in or under a liquid. It is further classified by outcome into: death, ongoing health problems, and no ongoing health problems. Using the term near drowning to refer to those who survive is no longer recommended.

Secondary drowning, sometimes referred to as dry drowning or parking lot drowning, is a rare but potentially fatal medical condition that occurs when water is inhaled past the vocal cords and enters the lungs. Secondary drowning is so rare estimates that secondary or dry drowning account for no more than 1% to 2% of all drowning. The affected person will appear fine immediately after the incident, but over time the water in the lungs will cause swelling or edema. This swelling will eventually restrict the lungs ability to exchange oxygen to and from the blood causing a drop in oxygen levels. A drop in oxygen levels will reduce heart rate, affect brain activity, and can eventually lead to death.

Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of secondary drowning can appear up to twenty-four hours after a water exposure. There are many signs and symptoms of secondary drowning, some of the most common ones presented include:

·        Persistent coughing

·        Chest pain or discomfort

·        Fatigue

·        Sudden changes in behavior

·        Fever

·        Shortness of breath

These symptoms can be difficult to diagnose since most individuals, especially children, are typically exhausted after extended time in the pool. This is why it is important to be aware of any water inhalation. If you notice someone exhibiting these symptoms but there was no report of water inhalation it is a good idea to ask the individual if they might have inhaled water.

Recognition & Prevention

The best advice regarding secondary drowning for parents, lifeguards, and aquatics professionals is to simply be aware of secondary drowning and know the symptoms.

For lifeguards and aquatics professionals, if someone significantly aspirates or inhales water make sure to monitor them immediately after the incident to ensure they are fine. After a few minutes of monitoring and no symptoms are exhibited it is ok to let them return to swimming, but let whoever takes care of them to know about the incident and to be aware of the symptoms of secondary drowning. If an individual exhibits any of the symptoms of secondary drowning it is recommended to seek medical attention immediately.

If caught early enough secondary drowning is easily treated with the administration of oxygen or the use of a ventilation system at a hospital, but if untreated it can be fatal.

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