Summertime is a time to stay cool, practice water safety

| July 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Towering above all the amenties at Richardson pool, Schofield Barracks, is a new 146-foot long spiral slide. Any and all pool activities requires safety measures. (File photo)


Dr. Grace S. Chen, M.D., FACEP,

Tripler Army Medical Center Emergency Department
HONOLULU – Summer is here, children are out of school and many are flocking to the beach or pool. But how many have thought over drowning prevention and water safety?

There has been increased awareness about drowning after a 4-year-old boy died from “dry-drowning” in Texas recently.

The boy had been knocked over by a wave and was submerged very briefly before a family member picked him up. He had appeared well the rest of the day.

The next day, the boy was vomiting and had diarrhea. His parents did not take him to the doctor because he had had similar symptoms before, and they were told he had a stomach bug. Nearly a week later, the boy woke up complaining of shoulder pain and took his last breath that day. He was rushed to the hospital, but they were unable to resuscitate him. The doctors told his parents that he died of “dry drowning.”

Dry drowning
“Dry drowning,” occurs when the vocal cords may be closed due to trauma that prevents water entry, but causes breathing to become more difficult since air cannot pass through. Your body will try to continue to inhale to try to pull in air. However, the air cannot enter because the cords are closed. Instead, fluid from your tissues and blood vessels is suctioned into your lungs, causing the fluid to build up making it difficult to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen.

Dry drowning is quite rare. People who die from dry drowning may also have had sudden cardiac arrest from exposure to cold water (which can cause an irregular heart rhythm), called “immersion syndrome.”

Primary drowning
More commonly seen is “primary drowning,” where the body inhales a large amount of water that prevents proper breathing and kills right away. This type of drowning occurs most commonly in the toddler years (associated with a lapse in supervision) or in late adolescence and early adult years from water sports or intoxication. Drowning is the second leading cause of death from unintentional injuries in children 1-to-4 years old.

Most drownings among this group occur in swimming pools. Sixty to 90 percent of drownings occur in residential pools. Often the child had only been left unsupervised for less than 5 minutes.

Teenagers drown more often in rivers, lakes and larger bodies of water, and many times these drownings are related to alcohol or drugs. Males will often participate in riskier recreational water sports, making them more vulnerable to drowning.

Secondary drowning
“Secondary drowning” is sometimes occurs when a small amount of water enters the lungs and causes injury. Pool chemicals, such as chlorine, can cause inflammation in the lungs causing more fluid accumulation. The onset of “secondary drowning” is more delayed than dry drowning (up to a 72 hour delay). Symptoms of secondary drowning include cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain, lethargy, fever, vomiting or a frothy discharge from the nose or mouth. Sometimes the person looks well at first, but getting fluid in your lungs can cause problems later; therefore those experiencing difficulty breathing, coughing, vomiting or mental status changes should go to the emergency room.

Preventative measures
It has been estimated that 80 percent of all drownings are preventable. Adult supervision, reducing risky behaviors, avoiding alcohol in aquatic environments, investing swimming lessons, using barriers to separate potential victims from bodies of water, erecting warning signs and flags, and posting lifeguards all help prevent drownings.

CPR is the best way to improve survival after drowning. Bystander CPR occurs in 40 to 60 percent of all drowning victims. One study found that only victims who were immediately resuscitated on the scene survived. Of those who received bystander CPR, 50 to 80 percent survived to discharge from the hospital. One study found that if resuscitation was delayed until emergency transport arrived, no victims survived. Therefore, basic life support and sometimes rescue breathing only, performed by non-emergency personnel, plays a very important role in survival.

What to do
Suggestions to prevent drowning:

  • Take a CPR course, especially if you own a pool.
  • If you own a pool, put a 4-sided, 55-inch tall fence around it with a self-latching and self-closing gate.
  • All children should learn how to swim for safety.
  • Supervise your children during bathing and when they are playing near water-filled buckets or other bodies of water.
  • Advise adolescents against drinking or using other substances when boating or when participating in other water sports.

TAMC Tip

Helmet use prevents traumatic brain injury

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. One way to prevent a TBI is for you and your children to put on a helmet when:
•riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or all-terrain vehicle

•playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing
•using in-line skates or riding a skateboard
•batting and running bases in baseball or softball
•riding a horse
•skiing or snowboarding

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Category: Health

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