Have You Heard Of Dry Drowning? What Every Adult Needs To Know To Protect Our Children

girl in swimming pool smiling

Back in 2008, a heartbreaking story about little Johnny Jackson, a 10-year-old South Carolina boy, made headlines after he died more than an hour after leaving a community pool. “I’ve never known a child could walk around, talk, speak and their lungs be filled with water,” Johnny’s mother, Cassandra Jackson, told NBC News at the time of his death. Cassandra Jackson wasn’t alone. Many parents didn’t – and still don’t – know. His tragic death, although technically a case of delayed or “secondary drowning, ” brought attention to a little known phenomenon called dry drowning, and with the official start of summer it’s critical even more now for parents, guardians and teachers to know about this alarming and seemingly silent occurrence.

What is dry drowning, exactly? 

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths in children ages 1 to 14, according to the CDC. In the U.S., nearly 400 pool and spa drownings happen every year. There are two types of drowning that can happen long after leaving the water:  secondary and dry. Adults are at risk, too, but children are more susceptible.