How to keep your child safe from drowning this summer

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Summer is all about fun in the sun and water, but drowning is the leading cause of death for young children and a child who has had a close call can drown hours after leaving the water.

Dr. Katy Stordahl, emergency room physician at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, says a near drowning is when someone almost dies from not being able to breathe underwater. If a child has been rescued, quick first aid and medical attention is critical.

Delayed drowning can happen hours later because water has begun to fill the lungs. Stordahl says this means every child who has had a close call should see the doctor, particularly if the child was unconscious, had trouble breathing or needed CPR at the scene.

Experts recommend monitoring the child for 24 hours, with at least eight of those in the emergency room. Recovery depends on how long the child was deprived of oxygen. Damage to lungs, heart or brain can occur.

Warning signs a child might be drowning:

  • Head low in water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy, unable to focus
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Not using legs (vertical)

Never leave a child alone in or near water. Adult supervision means having your eyes on the child at all times when water is present.

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