As D.C. parents try to break the heat with some fun in the pool,it is important to review some safety tips for all caregivers. I recently learned more from my pediatrician, Dr. Nadine Idriss, about drowning that can occur after you leave the pool. This is also called a submersion injury, or dry drowning and secondary drowning. To a parent this term is terrifying – you have a great day outdoors, swimming and enjoying the sun, and then the small risk exists that if your child quietly ingested water into their lungs they could drown overnight while on dry land.
The incidence of this type of drowning is low, 1-2%, but all of us who spend time by the water need to know the signs. Rest assured this should not occur suddenly so there are signs to alert you that you need to seek help. Any child that was rescued from the water needs medical help, even if they appear normal. Call your doctor or go by the local emergency room for some observation. Children who struggle to breath and show retractions, where their nostrils and skin around their ribs pulls in tightly, and kids who are coughing repeatedly need medical attention. If you child is vomiting, appears unusually tired or is forgetful, these are concerning symptoms suggesting their oxygen levels are affected and lowered.
If this type of drowning occurs, children can be monitored in the emergency room for mild symptoms or can receive supplemental oxygen. Last resort would be to assist with mechanical ventilation and do chest x-rays on the child for accurate assessment.
All of us who are caring for children around a pool should also be versed in CPR and choking skills by the American Heart Association. Being able to respond rapidly and calmly in an emergency is a must for all parents and we highly recommend taking a class during your pregnancy or after the baby arrives with us at Stork Childbirth Education.
How can we all enjoy a safe, less anxious summer? Get your child accustomed to the water and start lessons at age 2. Local area trainers such as Ed Durkin and the Nation’s Capital Swim Team are popular in this area. Invest in floatation devices, so if your child falls in the pool their heads will be kept above water. Be alert and CPR certified while on lifeguard duty for your kids or at a pool party so you can react quickly – and remember to wear your sunscreen.