Dry Drowning — A Hidden Threat

  • Dan T. Matrafajlo
  • Mon Jul 2018
  • Personal Injury,
  • 0

Swimming Pool AccidentAlthough New Jersey seemingly skipped spring, there’s a high chance that summer may actually make its appearance. As the New Jersey weather heats up this summer, more families will be heading to the pool, lake, and beach. Keeping children safe near the water will be critical for parents. And, not many realize the hidden threat that dry drowning actually represents.

A day of fun swimming has more risks than you might even envision. Imagine your child experiences a drowning scare at the community pool after breathing in a small amount of water. It could be that the lifeguard watched on as another youngster pushed him under.

After getting out of the water, your child has breathing problems.  You get medical help fast, and the symptoms subside. Your child experienced an episode called dry drowning. You are shocked when your child subsequently passes away. How did this happen?

Or, perhaps your child appears to be fine after getting out of the the water, but days later develops coughing or chest discomfort. Your child will need treatment fast. These could be symptoms of secondary drowning.

What is Dry Drowning and Secondary Drowning?

Many parents have never heard of dry drowning or secondary drowning. Both are delayed forms of drowning and, while life-threatening, are rare but still possible.

While dry drowning symptoms happen immediately, secondary drowning can take up to 24 hours or longer to develop.

Both dry drowning and secondary drowning are caused by ingesting a large amount of water—either chlorinated or salt water—through the nose or mouth.

In dry drowning, the water triggers a muscle spasm in the person’s airway, causing a person to have to difficulty breathing. It can lead to asphyxiation. The drowning is called dry because water does not enter the lungs

In secondary drowning, the water gets into a person’s lungs, causing swelling, making it difficult or impossible for the person’s body to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide, which can be fatal. Secondary drowning can occur hours and even days after the water is ingested.  So you still need to watch for dangerous life-threatening drowning symptoms after a water submersion accident.

Dry and secondary drowning symptoms include coughing, choking, labored breathing, fatigue, vomiting, chest pain, a sore throat, and change in the color of the face.

Last June, Frankie Delgado, a four-year-old Texas boy, died from secondary drowning a week after returning home from a family vacation. He experienced “stomach bug” symptoms that included vomiting and diarrhea but were actually caused by fluid in his lungs and around his heart.

In June 2017, New Jersey Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight introduced a bill that would designate every June “Dry Drowning Awareness Month.” Also, last August the same legislator introduced legislation to increase awareness of dry drowning among New Jersey parents and caregivers.

Contact a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been involved in a dry or secondary drowning accident due to someone else’s negligence at a pool, swimming facility, lake, or beach, contact Beninato & Matrafajlo Attorneys at Law for a free consultation. We understand how tragic wrongful death and injuries caused by dry drowning can be for families. We can provide the legal help you deserve.

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