Dry Drowning Is a Misleading Term – What Are the Real Dangers?

By Beverly Hopps
Health Educator, Safe Kids WNC/Mission Children’s Hospital

You may have seen postings on social media about “dry drowning,” stories about kids who seemed perfectly fine after getting out of a pool, ocean or lake and then, suddenly, as much as a day later, end up with breathing difficulties and die.

It’s terrifying – but the fact is that this kind of sudden “dry drowning” with no prior symptoms just doesn’t occur.

In fact, most medical authorities – including such organizations as the American Red Cross, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Emergency Physicians – discourage the use of the terms “dry drowning.” If a child seems completely normal after leaving the water and has no symptoms at all, that child did not drown.

That’s not to suggest that problems can’t arise after a child has left the water. They can – but they just don’t come out of nowhere!

What parents should know about possible drowning dangers:

Of course, the key to preventing these and other worrisome episodes is to keep water safety top of mind this summer.

Top water safety tips:


Beverly Hopps is a Safe Kids Educator at Mission Children’s Hospital.

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