'GMA' Investigates 'Secondary Drowning'

ABC's Bazi Kanani with the warning signs of a potentially fatal event that can happen after you leave the water.
2:36 | 06/06/14

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Transcript for 'GMA' Investigates 'Secondary Drowning'
Back now at 7:41, with "Gma" investigates. Secondary drowning. A potentially deadly condition that can happen after nearly drowning. ABC's bazi kanani has more on this scary development. High-five. Reporter: Roman is an active tattler after a recent pool party nearly cost him his life. Hi felt brave and jumped from the step into the spa. Reporter: The spa jets forced Ronan under water for 20 seconds before his mom was able to pull him out. He's okay. He's not blue. He's choking up the water. He seems fine. Reporter: About an hour later, Ronan wasn't himself. He started to cough and was lethargic. I called his pediatrician. She said, you need to take Ronan to the E.R. Right now. Reporter: E.r. Doctors said he had fluid in his lungs and was experiencing secondary drowning, a condition that doctors say is uncommon but can be fatal. It can take up to 24 hours to develop symptoms. Most people, if they're going to have a significant event, develop symptoms in four to eight hours. Reporter: In secondary drowning, like Ronan experienced, the fluid that remains in the lungs, prevents the tiny air sacks from taking oxygen out of the air and moving it to the blood. Breathing becomes harder and harder. If not caught in time, decreased oxygen can cause the heart to stop. It takes a small amount of fluid to cause damage to the lungs. In the child, it can be as little as a quarter of a can of soda. Reporter: Ronan survived after a fright ING 24-hour stay in the hospital. Lindsay took to her blog to warn other parents about the dangers of secondary drowning. Even if the child has only been under water for a sho time, doctors say parents should keep an eye on them up to 24 hours. If a child has difficulty breathing, is coughing or becomes lethargic, take them to the hospital immediately. Water safety expert, Jim spears, says teaching kids how to swim is one of several steps towards keeping them safe. At least a four-foot fence around your fool that they cannot climb over. A gate that looks automatically around your pool. Reporter: Know what you do if your child goes under water. If they're unconscious, you need to immediately start cpr. Have someone call the emergency services for you. Reporter: And when a child is in the water, someone needs to be watching all the time. I just know now that you literally can't even turn your back for five seconds. Reporter: For "Good morning America," bazi kanani, ABC news, Los Angeles.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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