Our maritime lawyers have blogged about the dangers of recreational water activities when it comes to drowning. Drowning accidents can happen at a moment’s notice, even when parents are vigilantly watching their children and even when children are exceptional swimmers. But while many people are aware of the risk of drowning while in open waters, pools, or Jacuzzis, not everyone may be aware of another water activity-related threat – secondary drowning.
Secondary drowning, while rare, occurs after a near-drowning experience and most victims are children. With secondary drowning, a victim inhales water into their lungs, causing fluid to build up as a result of harmful debris in the water, such as salt, bacteria, or chemicals. The fluid buildup damages the membranes in the lungs needed to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. This then leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and ultimately, brain hypoxia and cardiac arrest. Even if a victim of secondary drowning survives, they may be left with permanent damage to their lungs.
After someone survives a near-drowning incident, it may be easy to dismiss any further damage that could have occurred, especially if the victim appears to be fine. However, symptoms of secondary drowning can take up to 24 hours to develop, and if left untreated, the results can be fatal. The phenomenon is often referred to as “dry drowning” or “delayed drowning” because of the time it can take for symptoms to present themselves.
So what exactly are these symptoms? Continue reading