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What to Know About the Different Types of Drowning

Dec 02, 2020

Authored by Emlerswim

As a parent, you are vigilant about keeping your child safe. This means using baby gates to block off stairs, taping up sharp corners, and always being on the lookout for dangers that your toddler or infant may encounter as they explore the world. This is especially true when it comes to infants, toddlers, and kids being near pools or bodies of water. What do you need to know about the different types of drowning? Mainly that there is only one type of drowning, regardless of what you may have heard on social media or from news outlets.

Confusion About Types of Drowning

For years now, “dry drowning” makes headlines when misinformation spreads online about children who abruptly develop respiratory emergencies days after being in water. Usually these cases can be attributed to other medical conditions like myocarditis, rib fractures, or pneumonia that have nothing to do with swimming or water. The truth is that “dry drowning” is a myth because the definition of drowning is what follows after some kind of submersion in water (and drowning is not always fatal). 

Terms such as wet, dry, active, passive, silent, and secondary drowning should not be used, according to the World Health Organization, which developed the following definition of drowning in 2002: “the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in liquid.” Drowning cannot occur without exposure to liquid and some ensuing respiratory problem. 

In other words, drowning is never dry.

How To Prevent Drowning

Drowning is the single leading cause of unintentional pediatric injuries and deaths among children ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Luckily, there are some easy and effective ways to prevent drowning, especially if you implement several layers of protection. Pool fencing, door locks, and gate locks are your first line of defense if you have a pool in your backyard. 

Always designate a water watcher to be responsible for lifeguarding young children as they play near the water. This is true regardless of what kind of water it is – a creek, river, pond, ocean, or even bucket of water or bathtub can present a danger to young kids. 

The biggest defense of all against drowning is enrolling your kids in swim lessons as soon as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests starting swim lessons at around the age of 12 months. Swim lessons are vital to preventing drowning at any age, including in teens. Giving your children the skills to swim, float, and save themselves can be very empowering, as well as a good safety measure.

Swim School Options

Professional swim schools such as Emler provide your kiddos with many different options for learning how to swim, so you can choose whichever method is most comfortable for you and your family. We offer in-person lessons at our 26 locations throughout Texas and in Kansas City that include all the strict safety and social distancing measures that are required by law to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These in-person lessons are with a certified swim instructor, either on the deck or in the water, in small groups or in private one-on-one sessions. 

If in-person swim lessons are not an option for you, Emler now offers a new interactive EmlerSWIM@Home™ program as well. This is a DIY approach that includes 12 easy-to-use instructional video lessons per level and weekly video calls with an Expert Swim Teacher. Parents are encouraged to join the private Facebook group so they can connect, share tips, and enjoy the camaraderie of an online community that is usually found in person at the pool. 

If you don’t have a pool or access to a neighborhood pool year-round but still want your child to benefit from taking swim lessons, the EmlerSWIM@Home program lets you use our Swim Stations at select locations currently in the Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Kansas City areas. These Swim Stations allow you to reserve time in the pool for 30 minutes so your child can safely practice and learn to swim with us while using the at-home program. 

Regardless of which program you choose, teaching your child to swim is the number one way to prevent drowning.