News | Published July 24, 2014

An almost-drowning doesn't mean you're out of the water

At the height of summer, you and your family may have already spent countless hours playing in the swimming pool, a lake, or the beach.

While you may have taken the necessary precautions to prevent drowning – teaching your children how to swim, using life jackets, keeping an eye on children while they’re swimming, receiving CPR certification, heeding warnings at the beach, and putting up barriers around pools – many are unaware of the dangers of secondary drowning.

Secondary drowning occurs when someone experiences a near-drowning incident; water is inhaled into the lungs, causing them to swell.

It can take one to 24 hours before secondary drowning symptoms show, which may include:

  • Trouble breathing or chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Fatigue or unresponsiveness

Additionally, inhaling pool water can lead to chemical pneumonitis, which is inflammation of the lungs due to the harmful chemicals found in pool water. 

It is important to take your child to the nearest emergency department as soon as possible. Delayed action could result in brain injury or death.

By taking the appropriate precautions to prevent drowning and knowing how to recognize the symptoms of secondary drowning, you can help keep your child safe to enjoy the rest of the summer months.