Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death in U.S. children ages 1 to 4 years. When your child is ready to swim in a pool, in a lake or at the beach this summer, it’s important to take precautions to keep them safe.
“The most important thing to remember about drowning is that prevention is key,” said Dr. Alicia Webb, emergency medicine physician, Children’s of Alabama.
It’s not enough just to teach your children about water safety. “Always closely supervise young children and children who are not strong swimmers by being within one arm’s length of them in the water,” Webb said.
At the beach, be aware of ocean currents and weather conditions. Children should wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket while boating or around natural bodies of water. Webb also cautions against diving head first into shallow or murky water.
It’s important to note that ‘dry drowning’ is not an actual condition. “All cases that were reported as dry drowning actually have been found to be caused by something else, typically other undiagnosed medical conditions,” Webb said.
Symptoms from true non-fatal drowning can be mild but can worsen within the first eight hours after the event. “Seek medical care if, after your child has been submerged in water, they develop difficulty breathing, excessive coughing, or stop acting like themselves,” Webb said.