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CDC Injury Center: Director's View Blog

The purpose of this blog is to foster public discussion about injury and violence prevention and response and gain perspectives of those we serve.

Summertime Safety

Categories: Home & Recreational Safety

Recent news stories about “dry” drowning have surprised many parents since they never heard of it and didn’t realize it was possible. “Dry drowning” occurs when there is a laryngeal spasm and water is not allowed to penetrate the lungs and asphyxia occurs.

Some of the recent media stories have incorrectly attributed data about these dry drowning incidents to CDC. However, CDC’s data does not distinguish between “wet” and “dry” drowning. We support international consensus defining drowning as “the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid.”

During this time of year, it’s so important for everyone to think about what can be done to prevent any kind of drowning.

Children can drown in a blink of an eye and in little water.  We encourage people to be active and enjoy recreational activities to stay healthy and fit, but safety is key when participating in warm weather activities such as swimming and boating.

In some of the comments posted in response to news articles online, parents mention just keeping their kids away from water for good. We know this approach is not effective and can be risky. As kids grow up, they spend more time away from their parents and in environments their parents can’t control.

The questions in my mind when communicating to the public about this issue are: How do we not scare people away from activities? How do we change behavior without resorting to scare tactics? How can we make prevention seem possible? 

The Injury Center has developed some information to help you and your family stay safe while having healthy fun in and around the water this summer. Please consider helping us to spread the word about water safety with these podcasts and on-line fact sheets.

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