Dry Drowning

The number one fear of pretty much every parent at a pool or water park is their child drowning. However, many parents may not know that there is a risk of drowning even when a child is not in the water. This type of drowning is from water inhalation and can be known as “dry drowning” or “delayed drowning.” Dry drowning is a very serious condition and can lead to brain damage and death if left untreated. It is important for parents to know how this dry drowning can occur and the symptoms to look out for.

Bringing Awareness

In April 2018, a story of a little girl and her incident with water inhalation went viral on the internet. The parents wanted to warn other parents about dry drowning, because after their daughter accidentally inhaled water, she seemed fine for a while until she developed flu-like symptoms. Parents who have never heard of dry drowning may have a child that has inhaled water, and not recognize the symptoms. Luckily, the parents took their daughter to the hospital, and she was treated with ventilation and lived. 

How It Happens

Dry drowning can occur when a small amount of water is inhaled and gets trapped in the lungs. When the water builds up in the lungs, a condition called pulmonary edema can develop. This water can be inhaled while swimming, going down a water slide, or from shooting water on splash pads. Water hoses and water shooters at splash pads can be dangerous for small children if the water shoots into their mouth. The end of water slides where children are launched into the water by surprise can also be dangerous if the child does not hold their breath or lands in water as they are breathing in.


Dry drowning can lead to death when left untreated. Unfortunately, people who inhale water can appear fine for days until they even develop symptoms, and this makes parents not even associate the water with the symptoms. The symptoms of dry drowning are trouble breathing, coughing, chest pain, fatigue, dizziness, and behavioral changes. The issue is that these symptoms can easily be mistaken for being sick with the cold or flu.

Taking Precautions

If your child experiences these symptoms after going to the water park, go to the emergency room immediately. Dry drowning is treatable with ventilation to remove water from the lungs. When you and your children are at the waterpark, keep a close eye on small children who may have difficulty swimming and holding their breath. If your child has a non-fatal drowning experience in the water, be especially careful to look out for these symptoms of dry drowning.

Getting Help

If you or your child has suffered from water inhalation or dry drowning, call and speak with an attorney. There may be the possibility of getting compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Even if you are unsure if someone else is liable or at fault for a dry drowning experience, you can know whether you have a case or not by speaking with an attorney about the situation.

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