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Non-fatal drownings can have lifelong consequences for children

(Pexels photo)

PHOENIX — A child is rescued from the bottom of a pool, and starts breathing again. But will they be OK? That depends.

Capt. Kelly Liebermann with the Phoenix Fire Department said a non-fatal drowning — where a person survives after being submerged under the water, without breathing — affects children in different ways.

“The brain starts to die after about 4 to 6 minutes without oxygenated blood,” he said. “Once it starts to die, that’s it.

“Maybe (the issues are) physical, mental, cognitive, psychological. There’s many different issues that start to happen when the brain starts to die.”

Among those problems could be breathing issues, mental and emotional impairment and loss of cognitive skills.

“Everybody automatically starts to think, ‘Oh, they were they were alive when they went to the hospital’,” Liebermann said.

“The battle has just begun, trying to figure out do they have (issues), how long were they under the water for?”

Within the past six months, there have been 20 drownings in Maricopa County. Fifteen were children; five were deadly. Over the Memorial Day weekend alone, two women and a 4-year-old boy drowned. The child did not survive.

And yet, Liebermann said, pools can be a welcome respite from Arizona’s summer heat.

“We don’t want the children to be afraid of the water, but respect it,” he said.

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