School is out for the summer and families are headed to beaches and pools. But before you head out to the water with your kids, remember the dangerous threat that water can pose.

Approximately 4,000 people die in the United States each year from drowning,

75% of drowning deaths are children

“The best treatment is avoidance,” says Dr. Erik Schobitz, medical director of the pediatric emergency department at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center.

While many people are familiar with drowning in water, Dr. Schobitz recently discussed a different form of drowning with WTOP Radio. Often referred to as “near drowning” or “secondary drowning,” this type occurs when a child is submerged in water and later develops breathing problems. This is due to swelling in their lungs called pulmonary edema and it can occur up to 24 hours after the incident.

With “near drowning,” Dr. Schobitz says to monitor the child and seek emergency medical attention if you notice the following symptoms of respiratory distress:

  • Increased breathing rate.
  • Flaring of the nostrils. The skin on the side of the nose pops in and out with each breath.
  • Retraction of the ribs. The skin is sucking in between the ribs or over the ribs right at the “V” of the neck.
  • Paradoxical or “see-saw” breathing, where the stomach pops out and the chest caves in with each breath.

When in doubt, Dr. Schobitz says to be cautious and take the child to the nearest emergency department.

“I would rather you come to the ER and I say ‘it’s going to be ok,’ ten times then you not come in the one time where it’s not going to be ok,” he says.

Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center is home to Montgomery County’s first full-service emergency department for kids. Today, the pediatric emergency department is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week and provides care to approximately 21,000 children annually.