I heard he had dry drowning..

I am a survival swim instructor. What I do can be complicated and hard. But, I am fighting the most common; and VERY preventable death of pre-school children (under age 5), summer after scorching summer. So the controversy doesn’t scare me. I love children. And I think they all deserve to grow old.

Did you know that if a child doesn’t make it to kindergarten at age 5, the number one, most PREVENTABLE reason is likely because they have drown? “Levi’s mom @ Levi’s Legacy”

Watching your child cry for 24 days in a row, can be cumbersome. But never hearing them cry again is by far the worst nightmare a mother will ever face.

Mulitple Swim Mothers @ Lil Shrimps Swim Academy.

I personally know the reality of that outcome from working in our local emergency departments. Let me tell you, I pray the screams I’ve heard will never, ever come from my throat. It’s guttural and animal like. The worst sound I’ve truly ever heard. You can read about one of our dear friends little boys drowning without fatality in our very own pool

He taught me how quickly accidents can happen to good, normal, and responsible people. It’s not like you think it is. Since that moment, I have spent the last 7 summers teaching babies and children how to rescue themselves in the water. Swim. Float. Swim.

And somewhere between Memorial Day and July 4th, I get asked this question about 20,000 times.

“But what about dry drowning? Can you tell me more about that?”

My first response is always the same, first of all, Calm down Momma! Don’t delay your little ones swim lessons because of this VERY misunderstood phenomenon. This has totally been over-hyped by social media and people who are simply not knowledgeable on the subject.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend swim lessons begin when children start walking now!

The story you read is always the same. We were in the water just having some fun! And my baby gulped down some water. And when we went home, he was fine! Yet, HOURS or DAYS later he wasn’t breathing! Nothing bad happened, except for the moment when I looked back and he was under the water and I grabbed him right out. It couldn’t have been more than 10 seconds that I took my eyes away.

Let me be clear….A child does not go from playing and having fun to not breathing hours later WITHOUT some signs and symptoms of respiratory distress FIRST. They do not THEN die from a drowning without someone noticing something WAS amiss.

I promise it just doesn’t happen this way. EVER.

The survival float

However, what actually does happen is this…

A child CAN have a water emergency, in which they were PULLED from the water. RESCUED if you will……If they do not know how to hold their breath or they were submerged for longer than 8 seconds they can aspirate water into their lungs. As humans we breath without effort every 6-8 seconds. So please, count slowly with me now….

1 Mississippi


2 Mississippi

3 Mississippi

4 Mississippi

5 Mississippi

6 Mississippi

7 Mississippi

8 Mississippi

9 Mississippi


10 Mississippi

An aspiration, (inhaled water) will have your child showing signs of this water EMERGENCY almost immediately. Your little one would begin coughing and just not stop for HOURS.

I am not talking about a few little sputters after ingesting (drinking) some pool water. You see, our body has a way of eliminating water ingestion and it’s a completely normal reaction most of us have experienced, (I.e, “tea going down the wrong tube”). Coughing from Aspiration is very different than a few sputters in the moment of swimming. It. Will. Not. Stop.

They will be lethargic (more tired than ever), and be blue-ish AROUND their little mouth. Not cold, purple lips. A blue MOUTH. If they happen to NOT be coughing incessantly, then their breathing is going to be quick, shallow, and likely very labored as they develop an aspiration pneumonia which leads to other scary things.

circumoral cyanosis

I reassure you sweet momma, this isn’t meant to scare you, it’s meant to EDUCATE and EMPOWER you. IF your kiddo has an unfortunate water emergency requiring a rescue you WILL notice signs IMMEDIATELY that he is not well from the moment YOU PULL HIM up.

Of course, If you’re in the water, regardless of how short you think he was under, if there are any lingering symptoms, you need to seek medical attention ASAP!

Did YOU hear me in the back?

It DOES NOT just happen from playing and gulping water. Say what?! I can ACTUALLY bring my kid to the pool again?!? WHEW!

But, how do YOU prevent this? Teach them how to SWIM!!! Which, by the way, teaches them HOW to hold their breath!! Swimming Prevents them from EVER needing to be pulled out of the pool. Or NEVER knowing how to get their heads back up when they are needing another precious breath.

So is that all dry drowning? NO. No it’s not. Again, dry drowning is a rare thing found in medical journals that you don’t need to worry with. What you read about, is actually a ‘near or secondary’ drowning, Drowning is a process, with a full spectrum of side effects ranging from very mild to severe with fatal or nonfatal outcomes.

So, because we’ve confused the masses now, the CDC, American Red Cross, and all medical personnel across the board have relabeled all drowning episodes to two terms.

#1 Drowning


#2 Drowning, Without fatality.

Either you drown. Or you don’t.

Yes, you heard me in the back. These children in all of these viral blogs did not have “dry drowning.” What they did have, is an actual water emergency with a rescue, not just a simple “gulp” of water down the hatch.

Again, let me crush your doubts about what I’m saying. Every time your child goes under water does not mean an ER trip is in your future. If a 1-2-3- under, and back up happened. A fun jump off the wall with a little submersion in your arms happened. Their good! Yay, momma for having some fun!! If they come up and they cough, and maybe even sputter for a minute. They are ok.

What is not ok?

  • Coughing, Coughing, Coughing, non-stop coughing that needs to be addressed.
  • A very tired little one you just can’t wake up, that needs to be addressed.
  • Vomiting and
  • Persistent blue skin AROUND their lips, that need to be addressed.

Do not be afraid to swim and play. Enroll all the kids you love in some swim lessons. Preferably one focused on survival, and one that is not ever in a group setting unless they are already well skilled (unskilled swimmers need personal development), and one that never uses flotation during their lessons (rings, puddle jumpers, noodles are all flotation).

Teach them to swim to alleviate all of your fears. Kids need to go under water to learn to swim. Kids need to learn how to hold their breath correctly. Allow one of the many loving, swim instructors in your area who are personally sacrificing their summer months in order to teach your children how to swim.

We teach our children that cars and roads are dangerous, but we teach them that water is fun and is not to be feared. Personally, I want my kids to be afraid of the water.

I want them to enjoy their ride to the pool, just as much as I want them to enjoy their time in the pool. But they will know you don’t jump out in front of a car the same as you don’t jump in to the pool without some caution attached.

Swimming is never without risk. Without a doubt, hearing your child cry is uncomfortable, but many of the things we will do as parents doesn’t always come without a little bit of growing pains.

No child is drown proof and accidents happen in seconds. Not minutes. It happens right before your eyes. If you follow this list below you can give your child the arsenal they need to avoid a water emergency.