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Dry Drowning: An Unexpected Summer Fatality

This summer, you will probably go swimming at some point. You might have a swimming pool in your backyard, head to a local pool, lake, or pond, or take a vacation to the coast to enjoy the ocean. When you go swimming, you take certain precautions to reduce your chance of drowning, such as swimming only where a lifeguard is present, avoiding strong currents, and staying out of the water if you have been drinking.

What you might not realize is that it is possible to drown without being in the water at all. This is known as dry drowning, or delayed drowning. It occurs when water enters a victim’s lungs and alters the chemistry of his or her blood. A victim might appear fine after getting out of the water, then pass away to dry drowning a mere 24 to 48 hours later. If you have lost a loved one to drowning, dry or otherwise, that could have been prevented had another party not acted negligently, you can potentially recover compensation for your damages through a wrongful death claim.

The Process of Drowning

Drowning can occur in a few different scenarios. When a victim is submerged in water, even relatively shallow water, he or she is deprived of oxygen and at risk of dying from cardiac arrest. Drowning can also occur in the scenario described above, where the victim inhales water into his or her respiratory system and the water mixes with his or her blood, which can also ultimately lead to heart failure.

Dry drowning can occur in victims who are saved from drowning in the water and in individuals who simply go swimming, then exit the water without any issue. Any time an individual inhales water, he or she is at risk of dry drowning. Dry drowning can also occur when water irritates the larynx, causing the victim to suffer a laryngospasm. This occurs when the larynx seizes shut, blocking the victim’s airway.

Symptoms of Dry Drowning

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your child or other loved one after swimming, seek medical intervention immediately:

  • Shortness of breath;
  • Chest discomfort;
  • Fatigue;
  • Difficulty breathing; and
  • Vomiting.

If the victim needs to visit the emergency room, a doctor might perform a chest x-ray to determine whether there is still water in the lungs and provide him or her with an intravenous needle. There is no medication to treat dry drowning. Instead, victims are kept in the hospital for observation and oxygen monitoring. If the victim continues to have trouble breathing, he or she may need temporary breathing tubes.

Work with an Experienced La Crosse Wrongful Death Lawyer

Losing a loved one to dry drowning can be traumatic and cause long-term emotional and financial difficulties for you and the victim’s other loved ones. If you have lost a close relative to dry drowning, consider seeking compensation for your damages through a wrongful death claim. Our team of experienced wrongful death lawyers at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. can help you file a wrongful death claim to seek the money you deserve. Do not wait; contact our office today to schedule your initial legal consultation with a member of our team.


Published July 21, 2016
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