Johnny Jackson is a chipper 10-year-old boy. He has gone swimming for the first time ever with a friend. His mother picks him up after his fun in the sun and the two drive home.
His mother Cassandra has a conversation with him on the way home and asks him how his day was. Johnny is pretty exhausted from all the excitement, but he is happy. At home, the little guy takes a bath and puts on some clean clothes. His exciting day is over.
Johnny decides to lay down and take a nap. It’s pretty exhausting playing and running around all day! Nothing seems out of the ordinary to his mother.
But later when she goes to check on him, she is faced with a mother's worst nightmare: Johnny’s face is covered in foam and the lanky 10-year-old is no longer moving. His mother Cassandra shakes the 10-year-old and begs, but it is already too late: her sweet Johnny, the sunshine in her life, is gone.
An autopsy later discovers how the cause of death. His mother Cassandra can’t believe her ears. Johnny drowned. Only then does she learn of what killed her son: dry drowning, a treacherous variant but just as deadly. “I had never even heard of it. I couldn’t believe that such a thing existed,” says Cassandra. And, unfortunately, many parents have no idea that their children can fall victim to this horrible death, even hours after they have left the water.
When one dry drowns the following happens: children often die from a laryngospasm. It can also happen to adults. This is a protective reflex that prevents water from entering the lungs. But it limits the ability of the affected to breathe. The cessation of breathing leads to a panic attack and often to unconsciousness. During unconsciousness, the muscles relax and the person can begin to breath again. But, in 10% of the cases, the airway remains blocked.
The inhalation of small amounts of water is just as treacherous. Kids may appear well, being able to speak, run, and respond. But the small amounts of water can lead to inflammation in the lungs, edemata, or disruption of the gas exchange. Within a short period, often just hours, this lack of oxygen can be deadly.
Young children are particularly vulnerable to this type of drowning; their lungs are small, meaning a small amount of water can wreak large amounts of havoc with their respiratory system.