CDC issues warning about dangers of shallow water blackouts
A new report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that shallow-water blackouts can lead to injury or death for swimmers no matter what their skill level. And with pool season in full swing, the report is giving parents something new to worry about.
Extended periods of time can lead to fainting, subsequent drowning and possible death – regardless of how experienced the swimmer may be, said the CDC. The most common situation for this is when swimmers test how long they can hold their breath underwater.
Specific actions can be taken to help prevent such tragedies, physicians say.
Dr. John Howard, a pediatric emergency physician at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., recommends having an open discussion with children about how dangerous this breath-holding challenge truly is.
“Children do not think anything serious can happen if they are in the shallow end of a pool or if they are strong swimmers,” says Dr. Howard. “Promoting awareness of this tragic and completely preventable situation is the first place parents should start.”
Howard also explains to parents that warning signs of drowning may be subtle and easily missed.
“Struggle and significant noise do not always accompany drowning. Fatigue is the more likely culprit,” Dr. Howard says.
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides these warning signs for swimmers who may be drowning:
- Head low in the water, mouth at water level
- Head tilted back with mouth open
- Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
- Eyes closed
- Hair over forehead or eyes
- Not using legs to swim
- Hyperventilating or gasping
- Trying to swim in a particular direction, but not making progress
- Trying to roll over onto the back
About 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning, according to the Centers for Disease and Control. Of these, two will be children age 14 or younger.
To learn more about this dangerous challenge, visit shallow water blackouts.
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