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Summer Safety: Dry Drowning

Summer is just around the corner and with the heat comes lots of hours of fun in the sun, but before your child hits the pool make sure you understand what dry drowning is, the symptoms, and when to call your pediatrician, take your child to Pediatric Urgent Care, call 911 or head to the ER.

What is Dry Drowning?

The term “Dry Drowning” usually refers to a situation where some water gets in a child’s lungs causing the child to have a severe inflammatory reaction hours after the incident. This phenomenon can also be called secondary or near drowning. In another rare situation, dry drowning can refer to when the larynx (voice box) spasms and stays shut, causing involuntary suffocation. Sometimes this is triggered by water droplets hitting the larynx or a sudden high speed submersion, like when your child does a high dive or high speed water slide.

Warning Signs & Symptoms of Dry Drowning


Any person who has persistent coughing after playing in the water is at risk for water in their lungs. Don’t go to bed worrying, call your pediatrician or take your child in to be evaluated.

Behavior change

If your child feels sick, acts too sleepy, or has a change in mental status or behavior after a day at the pool, take this seriously. They might need immediate medical attention.


This could be caused by a waterborne infection disease, but it can also be a sign of severe illness due to dry drowning. As with the other symptoms, call your pediatrician and seek immediate medical care.

Water rescue

If your child had to be retrieved by a lifeguard or parent, they need a medical evaluation. This might seem obvious, but children can appear fine immediately after a rescue and seem well enough to get back in the pool and play. This is extremely dangerous as oftentimes the symptoms of dry drowning don’t appear until hours later.

If your child is showing any of the above symptoms of dry drowning, seek immediate pediatric medical care or dial 911. Practice water safety whenever you are near water and have a safe and fun summer.

About AllKids Pediatric Urgent Care

AllKids Urgent Care is a pediatric urgent care that is open every day until 10:00 pm at both our Gilbert and Mesa locations.

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