Secondary Drowning: Putting your child at risk - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Secondary Drowning: Putting your child at risk

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It's a silent killer that many parents don't even know about. Secondary Drowning can sneak up on children hours after they get out of the water. 

The side effects are often very subtle which is why it's so frightening, but every time your child jumps in, they may be at risk.

Alice Nako is a Charlotte mom who had never heard of secondary drowning.

"That's very scary. I have two kids and when you said it I just thought about them," Nako said. 

The condition is very difficult to spot. Secondary Drowning happens when small amounts of water get into the lungs, often times when a child goes underwater unexpectedly.  

For children, the water may prevent them from getting oxygen which could cause problems hours later.

WBTV sat down with Kara Sicilia, Assistant Program Director of Charlotte Aquatics.

"The immediate symptoms would be coughing, sputtering. Those types of reactions," Sicilia said. 

However, when those symptoms stop, there are still signs to look for. 

Kara Sicilia with the Charlotte Aquatic Center tells me there are things to look for when those symptoms stop. 

"Look for things like extreme tiredness or unusual behaviors. Or changes in behaviors you've been monitoring. If these symptoms occur, you definitely want to take your child to the emergency room to be monitored," Sicilia said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't keep tabs on secondary drowning compared to active (wet) drownings. They are rare, but Sicilia says your children need to be prepared. 

"Teaching kids how to hold their breath when they go under water, or jumping in, closing their mouths while their diving. Breath control is one of the first things we teach here. It's a very important skill," Sicilia said. 

If a parent notices any of these symptoms after their child has been in the water, a doctor should be consulted immediately, especially if they occur at night. 

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