Dry Drowning

Drowning is the second most common cause of death in children in the United States.

A 10 year old boy named Johnny “Jon Jon” Jackson died June 1, 2008 in Goose Creek,

South Carolina, subsequent to swimming in the pool at the apartment complex where

he lived. Jon Jon was wearing floatation devices on his arms and was being monitored

by his mother. His mother said that he inhaled some water while swimming and she

described him as “taking a little bit of water in and coughing and then calming down.”

He afterwards appeared fine, but less than two hours after leaving the pool; he twice

defecated in his pants and complained of being tired. After being bathed and dressing

himself back at the apartment, he walked to his bed unaided, leaving his mother to

believe that he was simply worn out. Yet when his mother checked on Johnny a few

minutes later, she discovered that white foam was issuing from his mouth, his lips were

blue, and his tongue was sticking out. The family called 911, but Johnny suffered

condition known as laryngospasm. During this event, although no water enters the lungs, no air

enters either, so the victim dies of asphyxiation. The second explanation posits that the shock

of a swimmer, suddenly entering extremely cold water causes the heart to stop. Dry

drowning usually occurs between one and 24 hours after the incident. A person can

have a drowning incident, be pulled out of the water, be okay, then sometime within

the next 24 hours, they can drown.

To help prevent dry drowning, keep your mouth closed when jumping or diving into the

water, thereby protecting the larynx from a sudden rush of water that could cause it to

spasm and cut off the airway. Also, do not dive or jump into extremely cold water;

instead, enter cold water gradually. Those who have a history of heart problems should

avoid entering cold water at all, even if they plan to go slowly.

Caregivers should also guard against delayed drowning by monitoring very closely any

child who has come out of the water coughing and sputtering (signs of water having

been breathed in), especially keeping an eye out for any further difficulties in

breathing, extreme tiredness, or marked changes in behavior.

One additional caution should be noted regarding drowning: it is a fallacy that those

who lose their lives in such fashion will flail about wildly even as they are slipping

beneath the water’s surface. Drowning generally occurs silently and smoothly, the

victim quietly passing away wholly unnoticed as friends or family chatter nearby.

Therefore, never mistake a lack of commotion for a sign that everything is all right:

instead, keep your eyes on those you are supposed to be watching rather than trust

that they will do or shout something to alert you if anything goes awry.

Researched online. Data gathered through various sources.

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