Secondary Drowning and Life-Threatening Personal Injuries

Attorney Blog

swimming poolWhether you live in Champaign, Aurora, Naperville, or another part of the greater Chicago metropolitan area, it is important to know about secondary drowning and the serious risks of personal injury. Given that we are approaching the summer months, many residents of Chicagoland will be heading out on summer vacations with their families. For many of us, those vacations will include recreational activities on the water such as swimming and boating. But without the proper safety precautions, serious personal injuries can occur. In particular, a child or adult in your family could sustain severe and life-threatening injuries from drowning.

One of the most hazardous forms of drowning is known as “secondary drowning,” according to an article in the Huffington Post. In short, parents can think that a child is safe and healthy after falling into a pool or into the ocean, for example, but the child can actually suffer from secondary drowning hours later. What do you need to know about secondary drowning?

Secondary Drowning Does Not Occur in the Water

The first and most important fact to recognize about secondary drowning is that it does not occur when a child is still in the water. Rather, as the article explains, “both dry and secondary drowning are considered atypical types of drowning in that they occur after a child has been pulled out of the water.” What is the difference between dry and secondary drowning? Dry drowning happens when someone swallows water that enters the airway and prevents the person from breathing. If it is not properly treated, it can result in breathing problems and even suffocation. Secondary drowning happens when someone swallows water and it enters the lungs. Like dry drowning, secondary drowning can lead to breathing difficulties and, if untreated, eventual suffocation.

When someone swallows water and it enters the lungs, it can take hours—sometimes up to 24 hours, in fact—for any symptoms to appear. As such, if your child struggles in the water while you are on vacation and you pull her or him out, do not assume that your child is safe from sustaining serious injuries. Rather, you need to be vigilant to ensure that secondary drowning does not occur. According to an pediatric emergency physician cited in the article, secondary drowning “might not cause any effects immediately, but [it] can cause edema or swelling of the lungs in a delayed fashion.”

Signs and Symptoms of Secondary Drowning

What are some of the signs of secondary drowning? Parents should understand that the “precipitating event”—falling into the water and struggling, for example—often does not look particularly serious. As such, parents need to be watchful for symptoms of secondary drowning whenever a child is pulled out of the water or appears to be struggling in the water at some point. The article cites the following signs and symptoms of secondary drowning:

  • Sleepiness;
  • Lack of energy;
  • Difficulty breathing; and
  • Coughing.

If your child shows any of these symptoms, you should visit an emergency department immediately.

Contact an Aurora Personal Injury Lawyer

In some cases, another party’s negligence may have resulted in your child’s injuries. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Aurora can answer your questions today. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans Law Offices for more information about our services.


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