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There were approximately 3,600 drowning deaths reported in 2005 (most recent statistical year available) and about 10-15% of those were labeled as secondary, or "dry" drowning, as per the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In the case of children, the most common reason for dry drowning is aspirating some water while taking a bath. However, it can also be caused by breathing in even a small amount of water at a swimming pool.

Parents need to be wary of the signs of “dry” drowning as they are difficult to detect and can be easily confused with normal childhood behavior. Difficulty breathing is often the initial sign, or unusual fatigue or out of the ordinary tiredness and "strange" behavior. Experts caution that sometimes it’s hard to determine the difference between "unusual" fatigue and a child who is just worn out from a day of swimming and sun.

According to Dr. Daniel Rauch, a pediatrician at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, “The job of the lungs is to get oxygen into the blood and your brain needs oxygen to keep working, so when your brain isn’t getting oxygen, it can start doing funny things". He went on to say, “That becoming excessively tired, losing consciousness and the inability to be aroused appropriately are all symptoms of this lack of oxygen.” When it is caught in time, dry drowning can be treated at a hospital, where doctors would insert a tube into the lung to give extra oxygen and time for the lung to drain and heal.

As a personal injury law firm we see a variety of accident related injuries almost on a daily basis. Tragically, drowning deaths are more frequent and less rare as you would imagine. We would strongly advise that if your child comes out of the pool and seems sleepy or lethargic, watch them very closely. If these symptoms persist you should rush them to the hospital or call 911 immediately as it is certainly better to be safe than sorry.

Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), with an office also in Elizabeth City, in Northeast North Carolina (NC), practicing primarily in the southeastern U.S. and handles only injury law, including car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. Our Carolina injur law website is:, the firm edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, as well as the Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard and also hosts a YouTube injury law video library covering many FAQ’s on personal injury subjects. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.


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