What you need to know about ‘dry drowning’


AUSTIN (KXAN) – As pools in neighborhoods and parks start to open up, doctors are trying to ease some fears. 

Social media posts are circulating in parent groups about the dangers of “dry drowning,” which doctors say doesn’t exist.

“Dry drowning is a term that we no longer use,” said Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Dell Children’s Medical Center Eric Higginbotham. “I think the term gets miss-used because kids can aspirate water or get water in the lungs and then they can develop things like pneumonia.”

Dr. Higginbotham says those symptoms can develop pretty quickly over a matter of hours.

“You don’t see a week later someone having death from drowning. I think it’s confusing because sometimes kids can have a drowning event so they go under … some water and then over the course of a couple hours is when the lungs don’t function right.”

Dell Children’s says last year they had about 38 near-drownings. A majority occurred in swimming and community pools. 

Alissa Magrum is the executive director of Colin’s Hope. She said parents need to stop focusing on something that’s not real and instead educate themselves about drowning. The non-profit was founded after Colin Holst drowned in a pool. 

 “We challenge people to be a water guardian and that means watching kids around water,” Magrum said. “Drowning is fast, drowning is silent, drowning is preventable.”

Magrum reemphasizes wearing life jackets, taking swim lessons and making sure you are an arms reach away from your kids in water.

Colin’s Hope stocks life jackets at a loaner station they helped set up at Lakeway City Park. Swimmers can borrow one and then return it. Loaner stations have also popped up at Mansfield Dam Park, Bob Wintz Park, Hamilton Pool and Lake Georgetown.

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