HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Dry drowning happens when a child breathes water into their lungs, causing their vocal chords to spasm and close.
“Typically, it only takes a tablespoon of water to cause the laryngeal spasm, the closing of the vocal chords,” said Dr. Anthony Guarracino, Harrisburg Hospital Emergency Medical Director.
Guarracino says it is not much different than actual drowning.
“If you’re still underwater or you pass out, then you’ll aspirate water and you’ll fill up your lungs with water, but in a small percentage of patients, the voice box won’t open up but they’ll still drown and die from lack of oxygen,” Guarracino said.
Most parents ABC 27 spoke with had no idea what dry drowning is.
“It makes me feel like just squirting him with a water hose at home and not even bringing him swimming. That’s very, very scary,” Harrisburg mother Doree Clark said.
She found dry drowning concerning, saying her son already has to be careful in the pool because he has asthma.
“Now that it’s being known about dry drowning, I’m most definitely going to keep an eye on him,” Clark said.
Harrisburg pool owner Heather Feist says the condition is alarming to her as well.
“That’s a little scary. I didn’t know just from inhaling it could cause aftereffects,” Feist said.
Doctors say dry drowning cases are rare, but parents should always keep an eye on their children when they are by the water.