The dangers of ‘secondary drowning’ after leaving the pool

Watch the video above: How you can drown even after leaving the pool

SASKATOON – It’s national water safety week and experts are reminding people to stay safe around water as pools are set to open for the season in Saskatoon on Saturday.

Every year, approximately 525 Canadians die as a result of water-related incidents and according to experts a person can drown even after leaving the pool.

“Just out of the corner of my eye I spotted a young boy who I think the current from the water slide had pulled him a bit more into the middle of the pool and somehow I recognized that he was struggling,” said Laura Beddome with the Canadian Red Cross.

Pulling him to safety and embracing the seven-year-old, Beddome won’t admit it but she likely saved his life.

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“In my experience this young boy was moving around, flaying enough, he wasn’t splashing in an enormously animated way like some might think but I could just tell he couldn’t keep himself above water,” said Beddome.

In this case, what could have happened next, say experts, is something called “secondary drowning”.

“It’s when someone takes water in their lungs and the symptoms will be, when they could die, would die would be like a really drowning because the water is in the alveoli within the lungs and they can’t take in oxygen,” said Valerie Pearson with Canadian Red Cross.

This can occur up to 48 hours after the swimmer leaves the pool.

“If you know someone’s really struggled and taken on some water, seek some medical advice and do keep an eye on them,” said Pearson.

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Pearson says look for signs that the person is “out of sorts”, unusual mood changes, if they’re not breathing right, if the child is not active or playing.

“It’s not that common but say if there would be 20 children who would have a near-drowning experience, it’s five per cent,” said Pearson.

Small children are the most vulnerable group for near drownings. For every death, there are an estimated four to five near-drowning incidents that require hospitalization and often result in varying degrees of brain damage.

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“We should never leave ourselves in a vulnerable position around water, it is a really fun and potentially dangerous thing,” said Beddome.