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‘Secondary Drowning’ is risk for children; ‘Their lungs can only take so much’

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BON AIR, Va. – It’s that time of year again when kids are anxious to go swimming. However, experts are warning parents about something called “secondary drowning,” which happens when a swimmer inhales too much water in the pool. Hours after the swimmer has left the pool, the devastating impact can be felt.

YMCA Aquatics Director Cami Raimo said they give parents an overview of what this is when they complete a swimmer’s orientation.

“We always tell parents to make sure their kids are supervised at poolside, not only with a certified lifeguard, but make sure there’s adult supervision,” Raimo explained.

She also described what happens when someone suffers from secondary drowning symptoms.

When swimmers gasp for air, they can both swallow and inhale water.

“The lungs get saturated and after the saturation it causes problems, like stopping oxygen to the brain,” Raimo said.

Raimo said one of the most important things a parent can do is to make sure their children are swim tested so they know their ability in the pool. That’s because sometimes children want to be in deep end because their friends are there, but they’re not ready. That’s when a child can take in more water.

“Everything seems fine until a little bit later,” she said. “Some of the signs and symptoms of ‘secondary drowning’ include children feeling a little more lethargic than usual, cranky, distended stomachs. They might not want to do anything but lay down to take a nap,” Raimo explained.

Raimo said parents who recognize these symptoms should seek medical attention for their child immediately.


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