Drowning – Risk Factors | Pediatric Oncall


Last Updated : 11/18/2010
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Dr. Ira Shah

What is drowning


Drowning is a condition is when a person falls into a pool of water and water enters into the lungs leading to death within 24 hours. When a person survives more than 24 hours, it is called near-drowning.

What happens when a person drowns?
When the person submerges in water, the person panics leading to entry of water in the throat. As water enters the throat, the throat muscles contract. The person continues to struggle and lot of water continues to enter the stomach. Due to severe spasm of the muscles he/she may lose consciousness and lead to oxygen starvation. The water then also enters into the lungs and further oxygen starvation occurs.
Drowning in cold water may also lead to Hypothermia (low body temperature) that may lead to sudden stoppage of the heart and the circulation.

Risk Factors and General Measures
What are the

risk factors for drowning


Toddlers with inadequate supervision may drown in home swimming pools or even topple over in bath tubs and buckets. Drowning may occur in 2-3 in (5-7cm ) of water. Teens may go into unguarded pools, ponds, lakes, and seas and may drown if washed away by undercurrents.

How to help a person who is drowning


The following measures are useful to help a person who is drowning:
- Do send for any professional help that is rapidly available in the area, e. g. lifeguards, beach officers etc.
- Don't enter the unguarded water yourself unless absolutely necessary.
- If the rescue of victim from the water is first necessary, take care that the victim may be struggling and uncooperative leading to hazard. Try and stay on land. Wade to a safe depth of (i.e. top of thighs) and throw a rescue ring or rope, or try to reach the victim with a stick or similar.
- When the victim has been rescued, check the ABC (airway, breathing, pulse) of the person. Do not attempt to pump any water from the victim's lungs or stomach. Keep the victim warm, wrap them in warm blankets/clothing.
- Call for an ambulance.

Contributor Information and Disclosures Dr. Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, B J Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, India

First Created : 7/1/2004
Last Updated : 11/18/2010
Contributor Information and Disclosures

Last Updated : 11/18/2010
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