The same life-threatening effects of drowning can be felt several hours after being submerged. Are you at risk? Click here to learn more about dry drowning.

What is dry drowning and what are my risks when boating?



Kids riding on a tube behind a boatThere are always risks involved with boating on open water. In addition to simply falling overboard, there are several types of boating accidents that can throw you into the water, including collisions, fires, and capsizing, all of which place you in danger of drowning.

And even if you are pulled from the water alive, it is possible to suffer the effects of drowning hours later. There are actually two different conditions that can occur as a delayed effect of water inhalation—“delayed” or “secondary drowning” and “dry drowning.” Secondary drowning results from water pooling in the lungs and gradually limiting oxygenation. However, dry drowning doesn’t even require water to enter the lungs to result in death.

Dry Drowning Risks and Symptoms

Dry drowning is a form of drowning that occurs not while the victim is submerged in water, but rather up to 24-hours after a submerging incident. Unlike regular drowning, dry drowning doesn’t happen as a result of water pooling in the lungs. Dry drowning is an asphyxiation caused by excess water irritating the vocal chords. This irritation causes the chords to spasm and swell, slowly blocking the airways and eventually cutting off airflow to the lungs.

Symptoms of dry drowning include:

  • Fatigue or lethargy. When the vocal chords swell, less and less oxygen will circulate through the body, making it hard to focus, decreasing energy, and increasing fatigue.
  • Coughing, wheezing, and trouble breathing. When your airways become blocked, taking a breath will get harder and harder. What air you do manage to inhale will be forced through a narrow opening, causing a whistling or wheezing noise.
  • Chest pain. When your lungs struggle to inflate, they can produce sharp pains in the chest with every breath.
  • Headaches and mood changes. When the oxygen in your blood decreases, more and more blood will be forced to your brain to try to give it as much oxygen as possible to survive. This increased blood flow can cause headaches, which can then lead to mood changes and irritability.

If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms following a boating accident that left you submerged under water for a period of time, seek medical attention immediately. Dry drowning can be prevented if treated quickly.

Dry drowning is a very real and dangerous consequence of being thrown overboard. For more information on boating dangers, passenger rights, and accident liability, feel free to browse our extensive collection of blogs and FAQs. For a more in-depth discussion of your injuries schedule a FREE consultation with attorney Andrew Kim by calling 800.636.3676 today.