Does anyone train/educate your lifeguard staff about dry drownings? If so, what curriculum do you use?


Does anyone educate your customers/clients about dry drownings?

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We do not use the term or educate lifeguards on dry drowning within the new YMCA program. We follow the World Health Organization's policy and practice document: "A New Definition of Drowning: Towards Documentation and Prevention of a Global Public Health Problem" (attached).


Thanks Mike.

No worries! I hope it helps...

We do not refer to it as "dry drowning" but we do train our Lifeguards to be aware of the possibility of hypoxemia after submersion, and to listen to the lung sounds after every save where the victim reported having inhaled water, is coughing up water, was submerged for more than a few seconds, etc. We don't have a set curriculum; we developed our own in-house training that was run by the local EMS Chief before implementation.

Thank you all for the updated information,  I teach some small Lifeguarding In services for a couple of pools and i just make sure to point out to the guards that this does really happen that one of the most important things you need to do after a save is to ask questions. such as did you swallow or inhale any water, i always tell the guards that if the victim isn't sure or answers yes that we need to make sure they seek medical help right away. that it is always better to be safe then sorry.

This topic is a great illustration as to why we all need to be careful in terms of terms for drowning events. The term "dry drowning" has been used in the past to describe two very different conditions: laryngospasm (which prevents water from entering the lungs) and active respiratory distress syndrome (formally known as secondary drowning in which water in the lungs interferes with gas exchange resulting in coma and death hours after the patient has recovered from the submersion incident).

I suggest that all interested individuals read the document Mike published. It is an excellent document to get us talking the same language. 

As to the question Alexa asked, it is important to teach that submersion/immersion events can have complications, even if the victim appears to have fully regained consciousness, use of limbs, etc. Some questions to ask yourself as the responding lifeguard include: How likely is it that the victim swallowed/aspirated water or vomit? Is the victim displaying any unusual signs of a drowning complication? Is the victim behaving normally or abnormally?

Signs, symptoms, and behaviors to watch for include: breathing difficulty after recovery, coughing, the presence of white foamy material in the mouth or breathing passages, irritability or listlessness, headaches, and loss of bowel or bladder control.

Even in the absence of signs and symptoms, if you have reason to believe that the victim has swallowed water or vomited during the event, have the person transported to the hospital or, if parents refuse to allow the child to be transported, strongly advise that they go directly to the emergency room or the victim's doctor.

This also applies to seizures and other sudden illnesses that occur in the water.


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