Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dihydrogen Monoxide Poisoning

In high school my sister, my cousins, and myself thought it would be fun to have a water drinking contest after my mom, a nurse, mentioned a then little known fact that it is possible to get intoxicated on water. Thinking that sounded rather funny we sat down and started drinking glass after glass around the circle going one for one with each other, the goal being to see who could drink the most. I felt like I was doing pretty well, but after countless glasses, I finally lost it, and vomited everything I had drunk. Not to be gross, but it was really strange, I hadn’t eaten anything and it tasted the same coming up as it did going down. One of my cousin’s ultimately one, in the end each of us ended up losing what we had drunk. It’s funny, but I’ve never drunk enough alcohol to vomit, but I can’t say the same about water.

I bring this up, because last week yet another case of water intoxication killed a person, this time to win a Nintendo Wii console. Two years ago a guy died in a similar frat hazing. In each case those that asked the person to drink the water got in a heap of trouble. This is so rare and as far from people’s minds as possible, that I have a hard time believing any fault can be placed on those that initiated the drinking. They could not have expected the outcome and the participants did not anticipate it either. In my opinion these were honest mistakes, not neglect.

So if I would have held my water that day many years ago and ultimately died, could/should have my mom been tried for child endangerment? Were these cases of reckless irresponsibility or good ideas gone wrong?



Blogger cantellya said...

Was it warm or cold water coming back up?

1/18/2007 10:23 PM  
Blogger Karin said...

I'm surprised you've, wait, I'm not. But I am glad you're still among the living. I miss all the pictures from your trips to the east coast!

1/18/2007 11:25 PM  
Blogger david said...

cantellya - It was warm ;-)

Karin - I miss the pictures too! I haven't had any good picture taking adventures lately. I suppose I could have posted a few of Iowa or Nebraska. I'll try posting pics with my next event related post.

1/19/2007 10:45 PM  
Blogger Erin Bennett said...

"It’s funny, but I’ve never drunk enough alcohol to vomit, but I can’t say the same about water." I love it!

1/24/2007 9:16 PM  
Blogger Seth R. said...

Actually, evidence in the investigation is showing that members of the radio station knew very well of the dangers of water intoxication and dismissed them. They were warned and have no grounds to plead ignorance. This is a case of reckless irresponsibility.

1/29/2007 6:28 PM  
Blogger david said...

My girlfriend was too scared to post a comment, so I'm posting this for her:

Go Seth! You see David, if you listen to the audio you can here them joking about the contestants dying! They should be locked up forever!

My rebuttal:
I agree this was reckless, but ultimately I believe responsibility should lie with the person performing the behavior. If I'm encouraged to do an activity that is adverse to my health, that is my choice. The audio also proved that the contestants were equally aware of the dangers. If they weren't when they started, they were when the DJs talked about the stories of previous deaths.

1/30/2007 11:06 PM  
Blogger Seth R. said...

Some things to consider: Were the contestants actually made aware of possible consequences and was it spelled out on the waiver they signed, or just present during the prattle of a morning radio show host (I have not heard the audio)? I am curious, if the woman was well informed of the dangers of the contest, why did she not seek medical attention when she complained of having a "bad headache"? Why didn't the radio station, knowing the potential of harm, provide medical care to the contestants themselves? Too many unknowns to make a judgement. I still hold that it was reckless and irresponsible, but will leave judgement in regard to criminal punishments to the California judicial system.

Another nugget for the debate, though: Suppose that instead of water, the substance had been something much more well-known to be dangerous, such as alcohol, and a contestant died of alcohol poisoning. Should the radio station be held more liable, because they provided a dangerous substance? Or less, as an adult can reasonably expected to know what they are getting into?

If I offer you a reward for doing something potentially harmful and stupid, and you die or get injured in the process, should I be held at least partially responsible for instigating your behavior?

1/31/2007 7:25 PM  
Blogger david said...

Seth - I would argue that the level of liability is neither less nor greater. Providing a forum for someone to do something harmful to themselves may be considered unethical, but I don't believe anyone should be held liable for the actions of others.

Offering an incentive to someone to perform unhealthy behavior is much different than forcing them to. I could offer someone $100 to harm them self, and while it would be morally wrong to encourage that behavior, I believe it is the responsibility of the individual to do what is best for them.

We may have to disagree on the finer points of personal responsibility, but I think we can both agree this was a moral travesty.

2/01/2007 9:21 PM  
Blogger Seth R. said...


2/01/2007 11:59 PM  

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