As parents, we all know how important it is to be vigilant when your children are playing near water.
And never before has it been so apparent as when we saw this heartbreaking Facebook post from a mother whose young son ended up hospitalised, hours after he was playing in a pool.
Ezra, who's three, ended up in a life-threatening situation in hospital after he went underwater for no more than thirty seconds while swimming. He was quickly pulled from the pool and appeared to make a full recovery, and seemingly no harm had been done. Several hours after the incident however, his parents noticed symptoms of lethargy and coughing.
Darcy McQueeny, who's from California, posted the following message in a desperate plea to other parents to be aware of the dangers of dry drowning:
'Please take a good look at this photo. This is my 3.5 year old laying unresponsive in a hospital bed less than six hours after jumping into the pool.
'He only went in for less than thirty seconds. He was being watched by two sober, conscientious adults who were both less than ten feet away in a gated pool.
'That is likely why he is alive, because he was grabbed out of the water quickly. However, that small blip of time was all it took for him to inhale water. The water he inhaled caused him to spike a fever, desat, and become unresponsive due to a possible seizure.
'He was talking and even eating after the incident, but went downhill hours later. Everyone who we met in the PICU remarked at how incredibly lucky he is to be alive. Not only because he didn't drown initially, but because he was at a gigantic risk for secondary drowning.
'Despite him being able to eat and talk and seeming like he was ok after the incident, he was NOT ok. Water safety should be a top priority for everyone. Do not ever leave children unattended near any source of water. Even following all of the rules, accidents happen. Even if they are acting ok after near drowning, please take them to the hospital. What if we had assumed he was ok and put him to bed?
'I don't know how to stress this enough. His PICU nurse asked us to please use our experience to spread awareness. My son shocked everyone by bouncing back at record speed and is okay, but he is fortunate. Please spread awareness about how important it is to take water safety seriously, including after care for near drowning.'
The post, which has so far had over 80,000 shares, has received hundreds of comments from concerned parents sharing their best wishes and astonishment at the condition Ezra was left in after just 30-seconds in the water.
One commented: 'Thank you for sharing this! This brings some much needed awareness to the matter. Big hug to you mama!'
While another said: 'I first learned about secondary drowning while working as an EMT and responding to a tragic scene. It is definitely something everyone should know about. I'm happy you guys took him in and he is doing better now.'
We're so pleased that little Ezra has made a full recovery, and grateful to Darcey for sharing their terrifying story, so that more parents will be aware of the dangers.
What is 'dry-drowning'?
Although very rare - dry drowning and secondary drowning only count for 1%-2% of all drowning incidents - both occur after a child has been pulled out of the water.
In dry drowning, water is swallowed, but doesn't enter the lungs, but it can enter the airway, causing it to spasm and make breathing difficult.
In secondary drowning, water does actually enter the lungs, also causing severe and serious breathing difficulties.
Things to look out for
- Dry drowning ususally happens within minutes of the incident, but symptoms of secondary drowning may not begin to show for hours
- Just a few seconds underwater is enough to cause dry or secondary drowning
- Symptoms include coughing, fatigue, difficulty breathing and sleepiness
- Under 5s are most at risk