Heard On The Street: Jumping in cold water on hot days can be dangerous

We pass on this email (names deleted) to raise attention to syncope, the temporary loss of consciousness caused by a fall in blood pressure sometimes induced during swimming in cold water on hot days.

 

To our dear friends:

This creates a shock to the system which can lead to severe cramping of the legs, cramping or shut down of internal organs as blood flow is constricted, loss of consciousness, trouble breathing and heart failure.

XXX and I had a scary incident over the weekend that we wanted to share with you in an effort to spread the word and keep all of our kids (and adults) safe.

On Sunday afternoon the boys were playing with a group of soccer buddies and their siblings at XXX beach park. They were doing what boys ages 6-11 do, splashing about, jumping off the dock comparing who could jump furthest etc... About half an hour after swimming, already home, XXX started complaining of stomach cramps. For those of you who know XXX well, he is not a fussy child and has a pretty high tolerance for pain, so this was rather unusual. Within ten minutes, he was bent over with severe abdominal pain, complaining that his "insides were burning", his eyes started to glaze over and he started to slur his speech.

We rushed him to the XXX ER where he was admitted and treated for syncope (aka syncope drowning).  We were completely oblivious to what this is but the short version is that in current hot weather, the veins and internal organs expand and when suddenly exposed to cold water/abrupt lower temperatures, they shrink and/or dangerously contract. This creates a shock to the system which can lead to severe cramping of the legs, cramping or shut down of internal organs as blood flow is constricted, loss of consciousness, trouble breathing and heart failure. Apparently people drown if this happens whilst in the water as they are unable to get out. Kids are particularly susceptible at this time of year when the temperatures outside are hot (+85) and yet our lakes and rivers are still VERY cold. This was the case over the weekend.

XXX is thankfully doing well but it was a frightful event. They kept him in observation for about four hours until they were sure that his internal organs were doing well and his blood was circulating correctly. 

Our pediatrician mentioned that King County put out a warning precisely so that this type of incident can be avoided. Please take care.