PROSPERITY — Everyone likes to take a dip in the pool every now but it’s important to understand what to do in the event a child or adult accidentally slips and falls in a pool. Officials said it’s important for people to know how to keep them responsive until help arrives.
Drowning is the fourth leading cause of death under an accident in the world.
“Drowning is not always equal to death and when you get into dry drowning versus secondary drowning, those are specifically two different things. Dry drowning is very immediate and secondary drowning can show up 24 hours to a week later,” said Glenn Hamm, Prosperity Rescue Chief.
Newberry County Coroner Laura Kneece said that she associates dry drowning with entering cold water and having laryngospasms.
“Your larynx is what opens and closes when you breath and helps keep the food out when you’re eating. So a dry drowning is when you say hit extremely cold water and your larynx spasm closes up so there’s never a water entry into the lungs,” said Kneece.
Symptoms with dry drowning are shown immediately such as a patient turning blue, difficulty breathing or are pulse-less when help arrives. Hamm said that it’s important to perform CPR with ventilations because this will allow for air to be forced back into the body.
“When we start talking about a criminal act versus an accidental act with dry drowning, that when we have to get the forensic pathologist involved. For us, that is Newberry Pathology Associates and we’re very lucky to have a local forensic pathologist and that will help determine whether it’s a dry drowning and whether it’s accidental or if the person had suffered some type of traumatic injury and was put into the water,” said Kneece.
On the other hand, secondary drowning deals with the inhalation of water that goes into the lungs.
“Sucking water into the lungs may not be a terrible incident. You may recover from it very quickly, it can get absorbed back into your system and you’ll see no effects or minimal effects that are long term. The other problem that can happen stems back to environmental. Sucking water in from the lake that’s heavily invested with bacteria, now you start talking about bacterial growth within the lungs, pneumonia may start to develop in the lungs and this is where you can start to see that secondary drowning taking place,” said Hamm.
Hamm also said that one of the Newberry County Dive and Rescue Team focuses is the rescue aspect of what happens. Hamm circled back to the discussion of cold water defining it as water temperature that is 70 degrees or less.
“Cold water, when we enter into it, something called the mammalian dive reflex begins to happen. That’s when you go into you laryngospasms that may or may not occur, your body starts to slow down and you start entering a hypothermic state, which starts preserving the body,” said Hamm. “Because of that mammalian dive reflex, we have the opportunity to bring a person back from a drowning experience and actually reverse the death and dying process within one hour of the time that a person is immersed into cold water. We can begin to try to reverse that.”
Kneece said that as of January when she came into office as coroner, that there have been no reports of drowning incidents in Newberry County.
“I am a huge advocate of safety. Get your kids in swim lessons, even if they don’t think they need it,” said Kneece.
Hamm agreed with Kneece and also raised awareness that drowning can happen in any body of water, whether it’s a bath tub, lake or ocean. Kneece added that everyday appliances such as mop buckets and toilets can also put a toddler at risk of drowning since they are top heavy and not able to get themselves out.
“Good parental supervision is needed, swim lessons and safety equipment. If you’re talking about a bath tub, you want to limit the amount of water that you put in and you want to be right there with your child. That parental involvement is very important. If you are on any body of large water, you need to wear a life jacket. I encourage that for not just children, but adults as well,” said Hamm.
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.