A couple of weeks ago, I shared an article on my Facebook page about a child who died of ‘Dry Drowning’…three days AFTER going swimming. This wasn’t the first article I had seen on the topic.

In fact, it was the third or fourth I’d seen since like February. Each story was the same. Some kid would go swimming, then three days later, BOOM. DEAD. Dry drowning. Each one had headaches and shortness of breath before they died in their sleep. I’m almost 45 and this is the first I’d ever heard of this phenomenon and suddenly, my newsfeed was abuzz with tales of summer fun gone sadly wrong. I mean, who doesn’t mourn the loss of a child? I don’t even like reading articles about bad things happening to kids because it hits me in the old emotion-box.
After sharing that last article, we went swimming with the neighbors. The next day, their youngest developed a horrible cough. Enough that they decided to go into the doctor’s office. I wished them well as we went on our way. An hour later, I remembered this article. I texted him and said that they might ask their doctor to check for ‘Dry Drowning’. Because, it’s a thing apparently!
Turns out, it wasn’t ‘Dry Drowning’. It was something altogether different. But, it got me to thinking about the whole ‘Dry Drowning’ thing.

And as a result: I’ve done some research!

Turns out, ‘Dry Drowning’ is a misnomer. Actual dry drowning is when someone is found dead submerged…but there is no water in their lungs. What the articles I had read were talking about is actually called Secondary Drowning.

From Wikipedia: Secondary drowning Physiological response to foreign matter in the lungs due to drowning causing extrusion of liquid into the lungs (pulmonary edema) which adversely affects breathing.

Okay, so taking the misnomer out of the equation. I was still left with this silent killer that was stalking my kids during their summer activities. Seriously, we live like 10 minutes from the ocean. During the depths of summer, we go to the beach on average at least two to four times per month. Sometimes more! Obviously, this is something I take very seriously.

Turns out…I DIDN’T NEED TO!

I read another article that talked about ‘dry drowning’ being a rare occurrence. And that was great and all, but one article amidst a veritable sea of “OMG THESE ARE THE SYMPTOMS TO LOOK FOR!!!!” articles…made me wonder. So, I called a pediatrician that I know and trust implicitly. She was very frank about it.

Don’t Worry About It.

Boom. Just like that. She let me know that it is VERY rare. That depending on the metrics used, we’re looking at maybe 10 deaths per year nationwide.

Let’s put this in perspective:

Lightning Deaths per year


You are more likely to be struck my lightning, folks!

Now, that having been said, you can still look for symptoms after going swimming. Here they are via WebMD:

Symptoms – Drowning complications can include:

Chest pain
Trouble breathing
Feeling extremely tired

So, there you have it. Don’t let sensationalism and a dire need for clicks ruin your summer fun. Go out! Let the kids splash! Keep an eye out for any of the four symptoms after the fact, but don’t let it stop you from letting the kids have fun.

And THAT is how I beat one of my fears as a parent. Research. And an open mind. Now, if you’ll excuse me, we have some swimming to do!

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