Dry Drowning Symptoms & Causes


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of death among children, with an average of 22 drownings and 11 drowning deaths per day in 2021 alone.

Although this data is certainly alarming and might make parents question the safety of water-based activities, there are ways to ensure that you and your children remain safe.

In this article, we explore what the three main types of drowning look like, and dive most deeply into the phenomenon of dry drowning—a non-medical term for when someone exhibits the symptoms of drowning but without any actual water present in their lungs.

Read on to uncover the main symptoms of dry drowning, and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your family this season.

The 3 Types of Drowning

Wet Drowning 

When someone experiences wet drowning, a laryngospasm—or spasm of the vocal cords—occurs when water enters the airways. In most drowning cases, the spasm relaxes and water enters the lungs. In a much lower number of drowning cases, the spasm does not relax and no water enters. This is known as dry drowning.

Dry Drowning 

Dry drowning occurs when the vocal cords get irritated enough from taking in water through the nose or mouth that they spasm and close. Though water never reaches the lungs, this spasm shuts off your airways, making it difficult if not impossible to breathe.

While this phenomenon is something to be wary of, it’s also important to remember that the phrase “dry drowning” is not considered an actual medical condition. According to Dr. Amy Groen, DO, of UnityPoint Health in Iowa, “It is a term that has been used and sensationalized by the media to describe when lungs of drowning victims contain no water. The reason for this is because the body forcefully closes the airways. This can happen when water is attempting to enter the lungs.”

Secondary Drowning 

Like dry drowning, secondary drowning is a non-medical term used to refer to delayed symptoms experienced after submersion in water. “These terms (medically known as submersion injuries) are often used interchangeably—even by some experts—but they’re actually different conditions,” says Mark R. Zonfrillo, M.D. at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

According to experts, during secondary drowning, a little bit of water gets into the lungs and causes inflammation or swelling that makes it difficult or impossible for the body to transfer oxygen to carbon dioxide and vice versa. Where dry drowning usually occurs soon after exiting the water, it can take up to 24 hours for secondary drowning victims to show signs of distress.

Symptoms of Dry Drowning

Submersion injuries are rare, but if you’re going to be spending time in the pool, lake, river, or ocean, it’s smart to be aware of the warning signs and symptoms. Some of the most common include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Repetitive coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Sudden fatigue or drop in energy level

How to Prevent Dry Drowning

The steps needed to prevent dry drowning reflect those needed to prevent any form of drowning. Most commonly, parents should:

  • Provide children with swimming lessons.
  • Enforce water safety through supervision at all times.
  • Encourage the use of flotation devices.
  • Only allow swimming in areas that have lifeguards on duty.
  • Never let children swim alone.
  • Never leave a baby alone near any amount of water.

If you do encounter a situation in which you think your child has experienced any form of drowning, the safest choice is to get them medical attention right away, as some forms of drowning don’t start showing symptoms until as late as 24 hours after the incident.

Protecting Yourself from Liability

While the risk of drowning is high in any body of water, homeowners who have pools on their property must follow necessary precautions to both keep their families safe from danger, and to protect themselves financially from any water-related accidents that might occur on their property in general.

This might include installing signage reminding people to walk not run in slippery pool areas, clearly marking the depths of the pool, having easy access to life jackets or other flotation devices, always having an adult supervising children in the water, and more. 

Though these precautions can help to keep invited guests safe, homeowners must not forget the additional steps required to protect those who are not invited to swim. This might include a child who has accidentally wandered into the water, or even adults who choose to use your pool without permission.

“Pools are considered an ‘attractive nuisance’ in insurance, because somebody you don’t know might see that you have a pool on your property and be drawn to it,” says Stephanie Olsen, a Senior Personal Lines Underwriter at Central Insurance.

From an insurance perspective, even if you do not invite these individuals onto your property, you are considered responsible for what happens to them while they are there.

“If someone were to visit your pool, even without your permission, and something were to happen to them like an injury or a drowning…you are still considered responsible for that injury or death.”

Stephanie Olsen, Central Insurance

This is why local and city ordinances often insist pool owners install a fence around the  pool, and include a lock on that fence for extra protection.

“A fence is your first line defense to keep something like that out or from happening,” Olsen continues. She also warns that, “even if you are a responsible homeowner and have a lock on a gate that restricts access to the pool, if you don’t keep that lock in good working condition and somebody gets injured because of it, that’s your responsibility as the owner.”

For this reason, insurance agencies often suggest homeowners with pools invest in added protection like umbrella coverage. A personal umbrella policy is designed to provide an additional amount of liability insurance protection and a broader range of coverage, including pool-related accidents. In the event of such an accident, this umbrella policy is able to cover any additional payment not already handled under the homeowner policy.

Learn More: Umbrella Coverage: What It Is & Why You Need It

Explore the full benefits of umbrella coverage on Central’s website, then get in touch with an agent today to learn how to enroll.

Post originally published July, 2020 and has since been updated for clarity.


Avoiding Remodeling Mishaps | Blog



Avoiding Remodeling MishapsSummer’s generally agreeable weather and extended daylight hours in Florida make it an ideal season to tackle renovations, remodels, and other household fix-its. Still, these projects aren’t without inherent challenges and risks. A little due diligence at the onset can do much to minimize unhappy surprises and make for successful, stress-free (or, at least, as close as it gets) renovations.

  1. Dial 811 before you dig. Flooding and electrical issues comprise some of the most common, problematic, and costly remodeling mishaps. No one wants a swimming pool for a basement, backyard electrocution, or raw sewage fertilizer. To avoid, always call 811 – the underground utility service line that notifies necessary utilities of impending work – a few days before you intend to dig. Companies can then send out service personnel to mark lines, preventing problems before they begin.
  2. Protective gear can mean all the difference in situations of predictable exposure and the unfortunate accidents that seem par for any renovation course, so suit up. Maybe you’re painting or installing carpeting, perhaps you’re demolishing an old wall to make way for a new open concept, or maybe you’re just lucky enough to uncover a delightful vermin infestation or a wasp nest, step on a nail, or reveal mold growth behind that old shower. Lead, asbestos, mold, and high-VOC materials are all toxic, dangerous, and can have long-term impacts on health. Donning full-coverage clothing; hard-soled, close-toed shoes; and protective masks, headsets, and eyewear can keep you safe and healthy during the demo or painting. And, in cases of larger renovations where exposures or infestations are of concern, hire a professional: They have tools for that.
  3. Speaking of mold, be sure to consider proper ventilation in all bathroom and kitchen remodels, both during the remodel and in the final layout. Both spaces are notoriously poorly ventilated, paving the way for science experiments only your children will find exciting. When cleaning up mold blooms, wear a mask and do your best to move spore-laden air out of living spaces as efficiently as possible. While you’re at it, make sure you don’t recreate the same mess for the next do-it-yourselfer by planning for ventilation needs and installing necessary fans – most experts recommend one 100 CFM (cubic feet per minute) fan per appliance – and windows where possible.
  4. Avoid the temptation to save money by cutting corners, going with the cheapest products and providers, or skimping on the budget. You get what you pay for and your home should be the last place you apply penny-pinching frugality. Ask around, check out business reviews, and consult with local interior design and home stores for recommendations on products and services, carefully weighing budget against bid and reputation. Set aside a portion of the total project budget for problems: they’re going to happen and it’s always better to be prepared. While you’re at it, if flooring changes are in the plan, order extra to make up for cuts, breakage, and loss; you’ll need it.
  5. Finally, manage expectations and expect the unexpected. Unless your renovation is intended to end in tears, divorce, or dismemberment, take time to rest. Breathe deeply anywhere except areas of mold growth, asbestos, and VOCs – laugh at the mistakes, take accidents in stride, and, when all else fails, take your frustrations out with a sledgehammer.

For any home insurance questions, call or contact Post Insurance and Financial today.

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