Drowning: Near, Secondary, and Dry Drowning

Scientific and Personal Life Saving Information

This post is dedicated to all whom have lost their lives by drowning.

Swim Parallel To The Shore To Escape A Rip Tide!

Everyday many persons drown to death. In this article I shall present information about drowning and how to possibly prevent it. I get into the scientific meanings and research on how drowning occurs physiologically. I also introduce life-saving information about steps to take after someone lives through an episode of deep water panic.

To begin, here is an except from my book: ‘Saved In The Last Wave: A Life Of Miracles’, about drowning:

“The technique I used to control my deep water panic began with the desire to enjoy the water, without fear of the moment when the ground would disappear beneath my feet. Sometimes my siblings and I would go to pool parties or the community pool during the long, hot summers of childhood. I made the decision to start practicing my technique, to help control the deep water panic that I seemed to experience, every time I went for a swim. Some people drown due to panic, fear overcoming them at the moment they realize that they can’t breathe. Opening your mouth to scream, only ends up with lungs full of water and a faster death. Panicked drowning causes frantic swimming in the wrong direction, because the victim doesn’t know which way to the surface.

This confusion can cause a person to swim deeper, destroying their chances of survival. In the daytime, you can look for the light of the sun if you can open your eyes underwater. It’s virtually impossible to tell where the surface is at night. The only way to know which life-saving direction to swim in is to relax until you float to the top. When at a pool with lifeguards, I would jump off the high dive, knowing that if I were to almost drown, I would be pulled to safety. I learned at the point of panic how to float my body to show me the right direction to swim in. I stood over the pool until I was ready, and then I would close my eyes, pinch my nose and jump. I dropped into the water, holding my breath until I started to panic. Then I forced myself to relax my body until I began to float. The natural buoyancy of the water, lifted me towards the surface, indicating the direction to swim in, to make it to the next breath of air. Anyone can learn how to conquer their fears of drowning. Granted, I was still going to die in the ocean that night, but using this technique helped me to hold on so I was still alive when my hero rescued me.

Ocean waves wash onto shore.
Ocean waves roll in at sunset, onto a lonely beach.

After doing some research about scientific knowledge of drowning, near-drowning and survival, I found the term, ‘breath break-point’. This is the experience of breath holding to unconsciousness. The studies and research on this subject conclude that some can hold their breath to unconsciousness and others involuntarily have to inhale at break-point. Some of the hypothesis and observations recorded about the identification of breath break-points’ consistency is called the ‘rate of return.’ This is the time it takes to reach breath break-point. Ultimately, the moment of breath break-point is different for each person and depends on many variables, including the volume of air your lungs can hold, your metabolic rate, and the amount of air the lungs hold when you go under. The scientific community has found that the higher the person’s metabolic rate, the less time it takes to reach breath break-point. In other words, those with high metabolisms have the risk of drowning faster than those with low metabolism.

A surprise that scientists found is that the body’s central respiratory rhythm continues functioning while you hold your breath. This ruled out that the breath break-point occurs because the central respiratory system shuts down. This break-point cannot be isolated into an exact moment because each individual experiences their breath break-point differently, based on their variables. This research is undefined, due to the differences that cause some persons to be able to hold their breath until they uncontrollably, involuntary, have to take in air. Then there are others that are able to hold their breath to the break-point of passing out from lack of oxygen. This breath break-point is the moment when I would have taken in water, but by timing the waves to know when to hold my breath, I did not inhale water. All the factors that helped me to prolong my survival ensured that I never held my breath to unconsciousness, nor did I reach the breath break-point of involuntary intake of breath, underwater. Taking in water would have increased my body’s density, forcing my body to sink faster. In the last wave, I was aware of reaching this breath break-point. Moments before that happened, I was pulled up from sinking into my watery grave, just seconds before being out of reach of my hero’s life-saving hands.

Real fear in the water, caused from panicking, can induce physical problems later. These side effects from a near-drowning can consist of physical instability and illness (sometimes hours or even days after being out of the water). The body begins to digress, involuntarily, after being rescued, whether by circumstance or direct intervention. Secondary drowning is the name given to this process that happens to those who live through drowning, only to later get physically ill and then possibly even die from complications relating to the first drowning. Dry drowning is sometimes called secondary drowning and can also occur between one and seventy-two hours after the first near-drowning (or even after only one moment of panicking in the water). It occurs when a small amount of water is breathed in during the struggle for survival, triggering muscles to spasm in the airway. Fluid builds up in the lungs, making breathing difficult.

I suffered with the breakdown of my body, owing to droplets of water making their way into my lungs while I was in the ocean. I ended up in intensive care for seven days, monitored and kept alive with IVs and tubes, while my body healed enough to make sure that I could breathe on my own. Many people have gone to sleep after being rescued, only to die from secondary drowning. This usually happens after someone is pulled from the water or made it to safety on their own. I had all the symptoms (of which I knew nothing about at the time) and when I made it to the hospital, I was dying again. (The common symptoms include breathing difficulties, chest pain, coughing, fatigue and behavioral changes. If you notice this, get the person to the emergency room as soon as possible.)

Drowning can happen to anyone. Children are particularly vulnerable to secondary drowning because they don’t have the means of communicating their illness. Children under five are in the most danger and need extra attention after playing in any water. If someone almost drowns, no matter their age or ability, they need to be watched and monitored by someone who knows their usual behaviors, to decide if there are any changes in their physical and mental, usual demeanor. If you go swimming alone, let someone know the time frame in which you will be gone. Ensure that you let that person know if anything happens while swimming and ask them to check in or stop by if you feel that there are any changes. Be ready for the possibility of an emergency room visit, if you do reach that point. This strategy is like hiking alone, in that you should always let someone know where you will be and what time you are expected to return.

The fact that I inadvertently ended up having people around me, hours after being rescued, meant that I was able to draw attention to it and get help. My life was saved again. Other factors that played a role in my survival were the heroic actions of gallant persons who put their lives in danger to pull me to safety, in addition to the breathing technique I used as a child.”

Ocean tree is sign of survival.
The tree is a symbol of surviving an ocean drowning.

What are rip tides and how does one find the way to survive?

Rip tides are currents that go out to sea. They are forces of water currents running deep under the surface and are swaths of water flowing opposite to the current that moves towards land. Therefore, when in a rip tide, to get out of it, swim parallel to the beach. From what I understand, once a person gets into that flow of the water moving towards the beach, one can hopefully body surf the waves into the shore, to walk on land again. (This is a simplified version, please do more research…there is a link at the end of this article for more information on rip tides.)

Had I known about rip tides and their currents, I think I could have swum out the rip tide and made it back to shore on my recognizance. As it was since I knew nothing about rip tides, I was fortunate to be rescued, which I was out of the very last wave that was going to take my life. I no longer could move any part of my body and was too exhausted to even wipe the hair out of my eyes the last time I made it to the surface. I could no longer move and was going to drown in the last wave. As I sank into my watery grave, a hand grabbed me. That was the hand of the man who swam me into shore and laid my dead body on the beach, where I was resuscitated. That is how I lived through my near-drowning. Had I understood rip currents, I would have had a better chance of survival. in my case, God intervened and sent a human angel to pull me out of the waves.


Swim Parallel To The Shore, to escape a rip tide.

Drowning can sometimes be avoided, but it depends on many factors. There are many things going on with drowning, that can’t be changed. The deep water panic that some persons have does unfortunately contribute to drowning. When someone is saved from drowning it is a miracle, because once it is happening to the person and they start feeling the pull from ‘the other side’, then one wants to go, it is that wonderful. So being rescued at the point of dying is the only way that person is going to live, because the fight is gone, instead ‘the other side’ is within reach.

Drowning happens a lot, even in homes with bathtubs and buckets. Drowning can happen no matter how much one does to alleviate the threat. When drowning happens, do CPR as soon as possible. If God wants to send them back or if they choose to return to life, then they shall.

When I stepped into the low surf on the night of my near-drowning, I did not see nor did I feel the danger, for I was so close to shore. I stepped into the water, up to my waist, when a post-hurricane wave swept over me, in an instant. As it receded back into the ocean, the wave’s hand held me like I was a grain of sand before slamming me down into the ocean, just in time for then the next wave that picked me up and threw me down again and again, as if I was in a washing machine. 

Even though the night was clear and the stars twinkled mischievously above me, the danger was real, but with all that was going on the night of my near-drowning, there is no way I could have known what was going to happen to me. The fact that I was rescued is the proof that supernatural events take place every moment around the world to save persons from circumstances and events beyond their control. The night I almost drowned was rather like fate, because I had been prepared for it all of my life. This realization brings me peace in knowing that my path was to ride those waves to eternal peace.

Near-drowning is more common that folks know and a lot of persons hide the fact that there was a moment in the water that induced deep fear of drowning, which is a real possibility. When these persons make it to shore and don’t share their experience, it endangers their life because of secondary drowning. Those who admit or look as if they had just seen a ghost when they step out of the water, need special attention and follow-up calls and visits. If the person gets ill or starts acting differently, get them to an emergency room soon as possible. Plus, since the threat of dying of secondary and/or dry drowning is real, make the doctors understand the danger and why that person needs special attention, especially the little kids.

Preparation is key to going to the beach or to the pool. Swimming is one of the most fun activities in the world. When one is aware of the danger of deep water and educates those who are going to be playing in and around it, that knowledge can and will save lives.

Poos steps lead into the water.
Steps into the pool, reflect the forthcoming fun!

Some training is suggested for all who go swimming like taking lessons and having hard conversations with loved ones about the real possibility of drowning in deep water, irregardless of the circumstances.

When it is time for a beach or pool party, go prepared with the knowledge that loved ones and friends know how to save themselves, in case they find themselves in a situation where they could drown. When they can’t save themselves, be prepared to take action to prevent a person’s unnecessary drowning, unless it is indeed their time to go with their Angel to have a talk with God.

The ocean meets the woman's outstretched hands.
Happy woman communing with the sea.

I really believe in the power of water and will once again stress the importance of education concerning playing and working in all bodies and types of water, to learn how to prevent drowning and how to help when it happens. With that said, enjoy Mother Nature’s beauty and power of water. Practice awareness and hyper-diligence around or in deep water, to ensure that everyone has a good time while being prepared, which is safer, smarter, and will save lives.

Thanks for visiting and sharing my journey to spiritual fulfillment and prosperity!

To read the eBook, please click on the following link below:


‘May Love Reign In All Universes and Peace Within Each One Of Us.’ 


‘This article is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.’

http://www.usla.org/?page=RIPCURRENTSUnited States Lifesaving Association Rip Current Survival Guide

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20140602/dry-drowning-FAQWhat Are Dry Drowning and Secondary Drowning? “Yes, You Can Drown Out of the Water” Reviewed by Hansa D Bhargava, MD June 2, 2014 By Emily Newman

http://www.swimmersdaily.com/2014/06/29/dry-and-secondary-drowning-little-known-swimming-safety-risks/Dry And Secondary Drowning: Little Known Swimming Safety Risks By Rokur on June 29, 2014

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7427600Secondary drowning in children. Pearn JH 1980 Oct 25

http://ep.physoc.org/content/91/1/1.longExperimental Physiology “Breath holding and it’s break-point.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16272264Breath-holding and its breakpoints. Parkes, MJ 2006 Jan; Epub 2005 Nov 4 “This article reviews the basic properties of breath-holding in humans and the possible causes of the breath at breakpoints.”


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