Entries in Drowning (7)


Infants Learn to Avoid Drowning in Aggressive Program

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For nearly 50 years, behavioral scientist Harvey Barnett has pushed infants into swimming pools with the hopes that they'd rescue themselves.  The program, never fully embraced by pediatricians, aggressively teaches infants as young as six months survival swimming techniques.

Barnett founded Infant Swimming Resource in 1966 after his neighbor's 9-month-old son drowned.  To date, the program has nearly 1,000 documented cases of children using survival swimming techniques to save themselves from drowning.

YouTube has shown numerous cases of babies intentionally falling into pools, only to tactically kick their head above water, roll on their backs, and float up to safety. In some videos, parents purposely push their child in the water and watch them rescue themselves.

Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  An estimated 19 percent of drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools where lifeguards are present.

To be eligible for the class, infants must be able to sit up and roll over, since those are two techniques used, said Kim Moore, a certified Infant Swim Self Rescue instructor for nearly a decade. The children are taught to kick their head above water and roll on their backs to stay afloat, she said.

But the program, which has grown in popularity nationwide, has been slow to be accepted by major pediatrician organizations.

Before 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended against swimming lessons for children under age 4.

While the Academy has found some benefit to swimming lessons between ages 1 to 4 to prevent drowning, it has loosened but not eliminated its recommendation against infant and toddler swimming lessons.

"It must be stressed that even advanced swimming skills will not always prevent drowning and that swimming lessons must be considered only within the context of multilayered protection with effective pool barriers and constant, capable supervision," according to the 2010 AAP policy statement.

Evidence suggests that children ages 1 to 4 are less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming lessons, but the evidence has come from small studies and it's not clear exactly what type of techniques have been beneficial, said Dr. Mary Rvelyn O'Neil, a pediatrician at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.

O'Neil said she warns parents against intense survival-like swimming lessons before age one.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Delayed Drowning: Man Dies Hours After Pulling Himself from Water

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 60-year-old man fell into New York’s Long Island Sound, pulled himself out, and then died several hours later, apparently of drowning.  Emergency doctors Tuesday called it a case of secondary drowning, something very unusual.

The man, Tommy Mollo of Yonkers, N.Y., fell off the back of a friend’s boat Saturday morning while helping to move it between slips at a marina in nearby New Rochelle, WABC-TV reported. Mollo returned to his apartment and told his wife he felt ill. She called 911 and emergency workers took Mollo to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:05 p.m., the station reported.

An ER doctor told the station that water got into Mollo’s lungs when he fell overboard, which led to subsequent breathing difficulties that could have been exacerbated by medical issues he already had.

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Mollo’s case represents a rare occurrence of a relatively rare phenomenon, beginning with his self-rescue, emergency room doctors said.

Secondary drowning typically occurs “when one is immersed in water, they almost drown, water successfully enters the lungs, and then they are rescued,” said Dr. Gabe Wilson, associate director of emergency medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. “Conceivably water could be inhaled while one still had the means to pull themselves out, but it would certainly be a rare occurrence as usually panic sets in by then.”

Wilson cited one study that showed secondary drownings make up five percent of overall drownings in children and teens. "There is no great data for adults,” he told ABC News.

The lag between the time water enters the lungs and begins to cause problems can range from one to 48 hours, he said: “Because onset can be rapid, it is not known whether there are predictable warning signs.” As a result, anyone who experiences an episode of near-drowning should be evaluated in an emergency department and “possibly observed for 24 hours,” Wilson said.

Lung damage from secondary drowning occurs when water comes into direct contact with the cells lining the lungs, interfering with their ability to supply needed oxygen to the body and to take away carbon dioxide, a gaseous waste product.

This damage can be particularly severe when delicate lung tissues are flooded with salty ocean water, like that of Long Island Sound. The water “tends to pull fluid from the body into the lungs,” said Dr. Larry Baraff, associate director of the emergency department at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. When fluid moves into the lungs, it “takes up space where the air would be.”

In Mollo’s case, he said, "It’s conceivable that the drowning episode and lack of oxygen led to a heart problem, like a cardiac arrhythmia or a myocardial infarct (heart attack).”

However, he said secondary drownings are survivable with fast-enough medical attention.

“If you make it to the hospital alive, it’s very unusual to die from drowning,” Baraff said. Survivors of near-drownings who arrive at the ER in what seems to be good shape will undergo monitoring “just to make sure they don’t get worse.”

Those who are in distress can be put on a ventilator. Doctors then use pressure to “force fluid out of the lungs so oxygen can get back in.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sleepwalking to Your Death: Is It Possible? YORK) -- It's not unusual for people to walk or talk in their sleep.  But drown while you're sleeping?  It's possible: a New Jersey woman found on Monday may have sleepwalked to her death.

The body of Charlene Ferrero, 55, was found in Newton Lake near Oaklyn, N.J.  Calls to the Oaklyn Police Department were not immediately returned, but WPVI in Philadelphia reports that police ruled her death an accidental drowning.

Ferrero's friends say when she walked to the lake a few blocks from her apartment sometime late Saturday or early Sunday, she may have been sleepwalking.  Teresa Cerini, Ferrero's next door neighbor, told ABC News affiliate WPVI-TV in Philadelphia she had done it about a week and a half before her death.

"I heard a knock on the door, and I go, 'What are you doing up, honey?'  And she goes, 'I'm so sorry.  The people at Table 2 ordered the eggs,'" Cerini told WPVI.

Sleepwalking and other forms of parasomnia are not uncommon. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 10 percent of Americans report some erratic nighttime behaviors like eating, walking, talking, having sex or even become violent while they are asleep.

But most sleepwalkers simply move from room to room in their homes.  Only a few, like Ferrero, end up going farther.

"This case is extreme but not impossible," Dr. David Rapoport, director of the Sleep Medicine Program at New York University School of Medicine, told ABC News. "There are clearly cases of people doing complex things, and these can include driving or walking into dangerous situations."

WPVI reports that Ferrero was spotted driving her car on Saturday night. Cerini said she noticed the car parked awkwardly in front of Ferrero's apartment on the morning she went missing. She told WPVI that she thinks Ferrero may have sleepwalked and fell into the lake.

"Hitting the water and not being roused is unusual. We usually expect a person to wake up after that kind of stimulus," Dr. Helene Emsellem, director of the Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Md., told ABC News. "It's hard to know whether she was awakened by that impact or not."

Scientists know that sleepwalking is much more common in children, tends to run in families and can be aggravated by alcohol, stress, fatigue or insomnia.  But exactly how the brain allows a person to perform complex tasks unconsciously is still a mystery.

"Different types of parasomnias may occur in different stages of sleep," Rapoport said. "It is not clear exactly what is happening, but the current thinking is that part of the brain is awake, while part remains asleep."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


After Near-Drowning, 12-Year-Old Boy Walking and Talking

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PUYALLUP, Wash.) -- It was an ordinary summer day when Charles "Dale" Ostrander went to the beach with his church group.  As his mother dropped him off, Dale, 12, made his customary sign of a heart for her, and she showed it back to him.

A few hours later, her son was fighting for his life after being dragged under by a riptide off the shores of Washington State.  He spent an estimated 20 minutes under water in the chilly Pacific Ocean, and when rescuers pulled him out, he had no pulse and wasn't breathing.  But, remarkably, Ostrander survived.

And even though he's still in the hospital, doesn't speak much now, and has to undergo grueling therapy, the Spanaway, Wash., boy is walking, dressing himself and learning to talk all over again.

In an interview with ABC News at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, Dale's parents, Chad and Kirsten Ostrander, say their son's survival is nothing short of a miracle.

"I think God answered a lot of people's prayers," Chad Ostrander said.

Dale's dramatic Aug. 5 rescue made headlines across the nation.  The currents were strong that day and as the boy waded in just a little, the powerful riptide tugged his feet out from under him and swept him away.

Nicole Kissel, 12, was on her boogie board nearby when she heard Ostrander yelling for help.  Ignoring the pleas of her father to come ashore, she used her board to swim into the churning waves and grab Ostrander.

"When I got to him I put him on the board, I grabbed the board and several waves hit us, one of the waves knocked us off," she said.

Emergency responders performed CPR and started an IV.  At the hospital, Ostrander was placed in a medically induced coma.  Four days later, he opened his eyes.

Nicole Kissel visited him that week, and he told her "thank you."

Since then, many have asked whether his survival was a due to the CPR, the cold water -- the ocean temperature was around 56 degrees, or something else.

"This is a miracle from God because it goes against the laws of nature," Terry Minge, the Ostrander family's pastor, said.

Dr. Benjamin Abella, director of clinical research in the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania, said Ostrander's survival may be due to the fact that the waters in which he was submerged were sufficiently frigid.

"A number of studies have shown that hypothermia -- reduced body temperature -- is highly protective of the brain when it is starved for oxygen and blood flow," Abella said.  "The water that bathed him was certainly quite cold, and it's likely that his core body temperature dropped during his cardiac arrest event."

Abella said Ostrander's age and overall health may have also been factors in his survival.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Experts Urge Parents to Monitor Pool Safety with Children

David de Lossy/Photodisc(MONTREAL) -- Experts are urging parents to monitor young children swimming in backyard pools, since drownings can occur in as little as two inches of water, according to a report from HealthDay.

Infants, particularly toddlers and pre-schools, are unable to judge the dangers of water, and are sometimes led to pools out of curiosity.

Pool fences are an appropriate safety measure, according to the report.

Parents might also consider lifesaving courses, just as young children should take swimming lessons.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Summer Dangers in the Backyard and Beyond

Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/ Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With summer officially underway, now is a good time for parents to tune in to warm weather dangers to keep their children safe this season.

In a study released Monday, researchers found that during the warmer months, on average, one child drowns every five days in a portable above-ground pool -- including those small inflatable pools filled only with a few inches of water, as well as larger portable pools that can hold as much as four feet of water.

"Because portable pools are generally small, inexpensive and easy to use, parents often do not think about the potential dangers these pools present," said Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio, senior author of the study.

Keeping children safe around pools of any size means preventing access to the water by unsupervised children, as well as constant supervision when children are in and around the water, the study says.

But aside from drowning, children face many other dangers during the warm summer months.  Here's a look at some of them and what parents can do to protect their kids from harm:

SUN: Cover your children in broad spectrum sunblock before going outdoors, applying it before putting clothing on.  And remember to re-apply every two hours, and after going in water or sweating.

The FDA will begin regulating sunblock next year.  In the meantime, consumers should choose sunblock containing zinc oxide or avobenzone, according to Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician based in Austin, Texas, and co-author of Baby 411 and Toddler 411 guides.

Heat stroke is another danger on hot and humid days, particularly in the beginning of summer, before the body has had a chance to adapt to the warmer climes.  Make sure children are properly hydrated if they're playing outdoors.  It also may be prudent to look for indoor fun or shade play for your children during the hottest time of day, doctors say.

WHEELS: Many families pull bikes and scooters out of the garage when the mercury heats up, but whatever time of year, helmets are essential to saving lives.  Smith recommends parents make sure the helmets they purchase have the Consumer Product Safety Commission seal.

Helmets should sit level on the head, above the eyebrow line and straps need to be secure, said Andrea Gielen, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy.

WEATHER: Lightning claims the lives about 300 people in the United States annually.  If a lightning storm is coming, head indoors.  Do not stay in an open space, like a football field or a golf course, where you would be the tallest object, Smith cautions.  Common wisdom still holds: Do not stand under a tree during a lighting storm.

PLAY: Prevent injuries with supervising children at the playground and by making sure the surface of the playground where your child plays can absorb impact during falls.

BUGS: During evenings and cooler times of day when mosquitoes are likely to bite, cover skin with a bug repellent that includes DEET, experts say.

For those uncomfortable using the chemical, Brown recommends looking for products that contain picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is approved for use in children ages 3 and up.  All three options repel not only mosquitoes, but ticks too.  She also suggests using a mosquito net over a baby stroller.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Portable Pools Increase Drowning Risk

Comstock/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Just in time for the hot summer months, a new study warns parents that portable pools are not without their risks.

The report, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, evaluated the number of fatal and nonfatal submersions by children under 12 years of age in portable pools.  Using data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for the years 2001 and 2009, the researchers found that 209 children drowned in portable pools during that time.  Thirty-five children had accidents, but survived.

"Over the last decade, we've seen an increase in the number of people who use portable pools, and in many cases, it's our impression that parents may not be aware of their risks," said Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Injury Research and Policy Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and lead author of the study.

Seventy-three percent of the accidents happened in the child's own yard, and nearly all of them (94 percent) involved children younger than 5 years old.

Smith said 80 percent of these water accidents occur during the summer months.  A child dies every five days because of drowning in a portable pool.

"Drowning is different than other injuries," said Smith.  "In many other injuries, kids get a second chance.  When they fall on the playground, they may break their arm, but they get a second chance.  Drowning outcomes can be so severe that primary prevention is absolutely essential because it's so quick and final."

These days, most in-ground pools have safety features, including pool covers, detachable ladders, alarms and four-wall fencing.  Most owners must agree to certain local ordinances before and after they've installed a pool.

But portable pools are much cheaper than in-ground, and can cost as little as $50 at local toy or hardware stores.  If someone wanted to install a fence, the process would likely be more expensive than the pool itself.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio