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While growing up, children absolutely love their pool and bath time. Playing in the water and splashing it all around can be a lot of fun. But what if after that ‘fun time’ your child seems completely fine, and the next minute they are battling for life? Scary, isn’t it?
As parents, we are always extremely particular about the health and safety of our children. You can take all the precautionary measures and be alert all the time, but the scariest thing is that some situations may just not be under your control. After all, it is difficult to control something that you cannot see, or even imagine in your wildest dreams!
Water safety is one such area where parents are always cautious. However, very few of us realize that certain factors can turn out to be fatal for kids even long after their bath time/ pool time is over. A recent nightmarish incident where a 4-year-old child fell prey to ‘dry drowning’ is a wake-up call for every parent.
What Exactly Happened?
Just like any other kid of his age, Frankie Delgado was having a day at the pool under his parents’ supervision. Every safety precaution was taken care of, and the boy was completely safe and sound while playing with water. However, shortly after coming out of the pool, he started vomiting and suffered from diarrhoea. Later, Frankie also complained of shoulder ache and lay down for a nap.
A few hours later, he jolted and woke up and cried in pain. The poor child took his last breath!
Although Frankie was immediately rushed to the hospital, there was nothing the doctors could do. His parents were helpless, clueless, and completely shaken up by the whole incident, unable to decipher what went wrong with their little boy. They watched as the doctors unsuccessfully tried to save their child. The mother kept screaming -“Let me just touch my baby! Maybe he needs his mama’s touch!”
But it was all in vain. Nothing could save the little boy.
What is Dry Drowning?
When the doctors checked Frankie’s autopsy reports, it was confirmed that he had fallen prey to ‘Dry Drowning’. This is a condition in which a person may lose his/her life because of liquid trapped in their respiratory system, after he/she gets out of water. The fluid trapped in Frankie’s lungs and around his heart had caused this fatal injury out of which Frankie could not recover.
When a child accidently breathes in water, a small amount of that fluid can enter through his/her nose or mouth (or both) and can cause a spasm in the airway which results in its closing up. The water that enters the lungs gets retained and causes inflammation. This makes it difficult or impossible for the body to carry out its function of transferring oxygen to carbon dioxide and back.
This incident is indeed a nightmare and we cannot even fathom the angst that Frankie’s parents must be going through. It is also a grave warning for parents everywhere, especially in summer time when our children spend so much time in water. It is estimated that drowning is the second largest cause of ‘injury death’ amongst children between the ages of 1-14. While dry drowning is a relatively rare phenomenon, it is something we MUST guard against especially for this reason. It can occur hours or even days after the child has been out of water!
6 Things to Check after Baby is Out of Tub/Pool
Any activity that involves staying put in water for a brief period of time can cause this submersion injury. Activities like swimming or bathing in a bath tub can therefore be considered risky activities when dry drowning is concerned. Pool time is something a family may indulge in together, especially during summers however many times, certain symptoms can go overlooked.
Any activity that involves staying put in water for a brief period of time can cause this submersion injury. This means, activities like swimming, bathing in a bath tub, or even waddling in an air-boat can all be risky. Pool time is something the family may indulge in together, especially during summers. So, how to protect kids from dry drowning?
As per experts, dry drowning always comes with warning signs. These signs can help parents to spot potential danger. We urge you to please watch out for these signals in your child after he/she is out of water. If you notice any of these dry drowning symptoms, you should seek medical intervention as soon as possible.
- Persistent coughing inside the water and/or after coming outside
- Increased breathing rate
- Drowsiness/sleepiness right after coming out of water
- Erratic change in behaviour
- Chest pain
If you notice your child exhibiting any of these signals, call for immediate medical help. Remember that the symptoms of dry drowning can start right after the child gets out of the pool or perhaps a few hours later. You may need to take your child to the hospital’s emergency room in case they struggle to breathe.
The doctor will monitor your child’s vital organs along with oxygen levels and breathing rate. Patients who show mild symptoms are mostly kept under strict observation. In serious cases, a full chest X-ray is done and oxygen is supplied to facilitate breathing. If the child goes under respiratory failure and is unable to breathe on his/her own, intubation and ventilators are used to provide support. However, this stage is a rare occurrence. If medical help is sought in time, the doctors will be able to increase the blood flow in the lungs and restart your child’s optimum breathing cycle.
How Can You Prevent Dry Drowning?
Prevention is always better than cure, and the same logic applies here too. Keep these water safety tips for kids in mind when taking kids for a bath/swim in the tub/pool.
Always Accompany Your Child
This is an absolute must and can reduce the occurrence of mishaps drastically. When you hit the pool during summers, make it a family activity which allows you to be with your child all the time. Never leave your child unsupervised in the bath tub for even a moment.
In case your child is slightly older and wants to swim independently, always keep an eye and supervise at all times. Monitor them when they are in or around water and ensure they follow all safety guidelines.
If your toddler is of the age 4 and above and loves water, enrolling them for swimming lessons is a great idea. They will acquire the skill of moving around in water and will get comfortable with the process.
Water Safety Guidelines
Ensure your child is always harnessed with floating devices and life jackets when going for a boat ride or even in a swimming pool. Opt for the toddler pools where the water level is not dangerous for them and is surrounded by four-sided fencing.
Always Know Your First Aid
Before any medical help can reach you, you should be equipped enough to help your child. Therefore, a sound knowledge of CPR is always a must. Discuss this with your doctor or health expert.
It is scary to know that an everyday activity like bathing or a recreational activity like swimming can result in something this serious. One may not be able to see it happen in the moment, but it is essential to pick up cues and act upon them – in time.