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Pat Jones YMCA in Springfield explains difference between secondary and dry drowning

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 9:55 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Before jumping into a pool or lake this summer it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable in the water.

Erin Shaw with the Pat Jones YMCA said drowning doesn’t always happen underwater. There’s dry and secondary drownings that occur when you get out of the water. Shaw said a secondary drowning can occur when ingesting a significant amount of water and not seeking medical treatment after. She said water can be inside a person’s lungs which could cut make it hard to breath. Dry drowning causes the vocal cords to close over the windpipe. While Shaw said it’s not as common as drowning while swimming, looking for symptoms can save a life.

“Seeking medical attention is really a top priority,” said Shaw. “In my 25 years of experience the very few have resulted because of not seeking medical attention.”

Dr. Sadaf Sohrab with Mercy Springfield Hospital says to watch for symptoms long after leaving the water.

”Dry drowning is a little bit less obvious but still the person is going to be in distress and they’re not going to be able to breathe and you’ll be able to see that,” said Sohrab. “You’ll know that you need to seek help, even the secondary drowning is not something that’s just going to go unnoticed. The person is going to have shorter breath. They’re going to be using their extra muscles to breathe.”

Shaw said to prevent secondary and dry drowning, become a strong swimmer along with keeping an eye out on children in the water and wear life jackets when needed.

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