Lifeguards warn of secondary drowning - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Lifeguards warn of secondary drowning

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It can happen in seconds. Your child goes under, and water rushes into their lungs. The lifeguards fish them out safely -- you think.

"You think everything is alright, but an hour or two later, they might stop breathing, because they still have water in their lungs," said Brooke Craig, Head Manager of Byrnes Pool in Waterloo.

It's called secondary drowning.

"It is scary," Craig said. "I'd never heard of it before."

She said Waterloo lifeguards received new training on the phenomenon this year. It can happen after a near-drowning incident. The remaining water in a child's lungs makes it harder to breathe, and they slowly drown, far from water. And that has parents watching their little ones a lot closer.

"Just keeping an eye and them, make sure nothing goes wrong," said Roxane Ash, supervising several kids at the pool. "Make sure they're not taking on a lot of water."

Doctors can remove the fluid from a child's lungs if they catch it in time, but lifeguards say the best option is prevention, which means noticing the warning signs of a drowning.

"Stopped forward motion, a scream for help, going under, starting bobbing up and down," said Ted O'Brien, Assistant Manager at Byrnes. "That's when we usually would jump in and assist the kid to the side."

He said parents should also keep a close eye on their kids.

"Especially if they leave the pool and they're not certified to do CPR," Craig said.

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