'Secondary drowning' can occur hours after leaving the beach

'Secondary drowning' can occur hours after leaving the beach
GSMC reports 11 drownings or near drownings, this year.
GSMC reports 11 drownings or near drownings, this year.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As we head into the heart of summer, it's time for you take safety in your own hands, to avoid someone you love becoming a drowning victim.

Doctors at Grand Strand Medical Center say drownings have become too common in our area.

"I've worked quite a few places in this country, so far, and I've never seen as much drowning as I have in this particular area," Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. Jon Pangia said. "We see about, one drowning a week or more."

Already this year, the hospital has treated 11 drownings, or near drownings. The scary part is, the summer has only just begun.

Every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which is why health experts stress the importance of safety.

If you're at the beach, pay attention to your surroundings. Know the meaning of the colored beach flags; for example, if it's red, stay out of the water.

Pay attention to the water itself. Signs of rip currents or dangerous waves can be as simple as discolored, foamy or choppy water. If you are caught in a rip current, experts say you should swim parallel to shore.

If you're going to pay attention to one thing, it should be the people you're with, no matter what their age, adults can drown too.

Even when you leave the pool, keep watching. Secondary drowning can happen hours after you leave the water. Dr. Pangia described secondary drowning as, getting pulled under water, feeling fine, but hours later, getting hit with the effects. It's basically a delayed response of fluid getting into your lungs, which could cause breathing issues.

Doctors say, secondary drowning is rare but something we need to be aware of, so when you leave the beach or the pool, warning signs are coughing and fatigue.

The best thing you can do, now, is take steps to avoid getting there. First, teach your kids how to swim, and if they don't know how, put them in a life jacket. Always watch your kids closely so it doesn't happen, but if it does happen, get on it quickly, have someone else call 911 so you can start CPR.

"CPR is one of those things that is everything to someone that is drowning, it's important that you know it, if you don't know it yet, you need to know it. That's part of being a good citizen, it really is, especially if you're being around water," Dr. Pangia said.

You can learn CPR at Grand Strand Medical Center: http://grandstrandmed.com/about/newsroom/june-2015-classes-events

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