The game likely seemed innocuous enough -- water poker. There were no drugs or alcohol involved, nor any naughty strip poker shenanigans. It was just a group of kids playing cards, in which the loser of each hand had to drink a glass of water. Tragically, however, that innocent- sounding game came to a deadly end for a 12-year-old girl.
It happened recently in Finland at a boarding school. According to the UPI, the well-liked girl was playing the game with friends, and she must have lost quite a few hands, as she drank more than six quarts of water in all. Then just hours later she was found ill, vomiting, and taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced brain dead. She died three days later. The cause: Water intoxication.
It's absolutely tragic that such a game could kill a young girl. Those kids probably had no idea it could have such deadly consequences. Before I read this story, if my son asked me if he could play a game with such rules, I'd have told him sure and would have counted my blessings that he was into such innocent fun. Unfortunately, this game is anything but innocent.
This was an extreme case, but it has happened before. A few years back a California woman died from water intoxication after participating in a radio station's contest to see how much water contestants could drink without going to the bathroom -- "Hold Your Wee for a Wii".
According to Scientific America, ingesting too much water leads to an insufficient amount of salt in one's blood. When salt levels get too low, the kidneys can't function correctly, and it can lead to swelling of the brain. Symptoms include things like headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and mental disorientation. It's incredible that water -- something we typically think of being such a healthy thing to ingest -- can do such damage.
While tragic, this certainly doesn't' mean we need to start putting a lock on our water faucets or grilling our kids about how much water they're drinking. But I guess like anything else, it's good to be aware of the dangers out there. And, of course, it's yet another reminder to teach our kids that moderation in most everything we do is usually prudent.
Would you have ever thought to fear an overdose of water?
Image via Greg Riegeler Photography/Flickr