Dry drowning: calming the concern

After several stories of children drowning out of the water and on land made national headlines, the term “dry drowning” has some parents on edge.

Now, local water safety experts and doctors want parents to take a deep breath.

"The scary part of what people are calling dry drowning is a little overemphasizing,” Blake Collingsworth, cofounder of the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation and vice president of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, said. “People start worrying that ‘oh my child had some water in their lungs, I put them to bed at night and they may not wake up the next morning.’"

Collingsworth said years ago, dry drowning was one of 33 categorized types of drowning experts referred to. Those experts have since ditched the term dry drowning, instead referring to all types of drowning as one thing: drowning.

He said referring to someone suffering from drowning symptoms on land is confusing, and brings sensationalism to a very serious topic.

“The public is talking about drowning and we want them to understand the severity of the problem,” he said. “Creating the hysteria for people to be more afraid of something that’s not necessarily a problem, we don’t want to do that at the same time.”

Dr. John Bonta, an Emergency Medical Physician at Bryan Hospital, said he treats all types of drowning the same.

If parents see symptoms like excessive coughing, trouble breathing or lethargy, that’s cause to see a doctor.

"If there was a submersion injury or near drowning they need to bring that child in for evaluation,” he said. “If that were my child, I would bring them here to be evaluated."

Both Collingsworth and Bonta said the best thing to do is educate yourself, and take extra precautions around water.

"Really the push should be to educate people to put up fences, to have adults available and to supervise young children because it happens so quickly," Bonta said.