That time I saved a life and then later learned of “secondary drowning”

I recently came across this article about “secondary drowning” via a Facebook share from a friend. I read it with wide eyes, a dropped jaw and a sunken feeling in my gut. At the end of it I thought, “Thank God this didn’t happen to her that day.” The next thought was, “I have to blog about this…all parents need to know what this is!”

So you may be wondering, “Who is her and what the heck happened?” Let me explain…

At Mia’s 2nd birthday party a month ago, I saved a life. How weird it is to type that and even weirder to say it, but it’s true. The story isn’t anything extraordinary or all that impressive, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time and I know that if I had not been nearby, there were other adults just feet away that I’m sure would have done the same thing (only seconds later).

Here’s the scene: A handful of kids were sitting on the edge of our pool with their feet in the water above the steps. They were behaving, just splashing and kicking the water with a group of adults sitting and conversing within 10 feet away. I happened to be roaming around the backyard with my camera in my hand, snapping photos of the party. I had just happened to be standing between the pool (where the kids were) and the group of adults when I was taking a photo of the bounce house when I somehow noticed that one of our guests, a 15 month old girl, was slowly falling backward into the water from the first step. I have no clue why or how I was the first to notice because I can’t remember anyone shouting or screaming (maybe someone did) but somehow I had turned in her direction at the perfect moment to see that heart stopping sight. Thinking back, it seems like it took me forever to snap out of my initial shock over the fact that this was actually happening but once I did, I quickly (and safely, amazingly) dropped my camera off of my shoulder and onto the ground and leaped into the pool (yes, fully dressed) to grab the tiny body that was then fully immersed in the water, face up and helpless. Before I knew it, she was safely in my arms and then quickly out of them as her father reached us within seconds for the hand-off. All eyes were on the baby as I still remained waist deep in the water, shaking and still in shock over the incident. Seconds later, my husband sort of snapped me out of it and took my hand to lead me out of the pool. Everybody was okay, but for the next 30 minutes (at least) I was on the verge of tears over the thought of what could have been, had no one noticed her in the pool sooner. Her mom and dad were definitely shaken up, too. When everyone went home that night, no one had any clue that things could have gotten fatally worse (but don’t worry, they didn’t).

That’s where that article I mentioned earlier comes in. Have you ever heard of “secondary drowning?” I most definitely haven’t and I’m seriously glad to have read about it. We have a swimming pool, a 2 year old and summer is practically here. It’s so important to me to be aware of pool safety and to be aware of all the dangers involved with owning one. We have people over (and throw a party or two) throughout summer and young children swim in our pool pretty often (including my own child). God forbid, if another near drowning incident occurs again you’ll be damn sure I will be informing the guests of the possible danger that could immediately follow and how their child is not necessarily in the clear. In the case of our recent scare, I’m so thankful that the little girl didn’t suffer from secondary drowning.

Pool weather is here in southern California and summer is right around the corner for the rest of the country. Educate yourself on the signs to look for with secondary drowning, spread the word to family and friends and stay safe this summer. Pool accidents can happen in a matter of seconds so never take pool safety lightly. Not everyone’s story ends well like ours did.

These photos mark our first pool day of the year. Mia loved the pool last summer but I think she forgot how much fun it was because she was very unsure about it at first. This kid better get used to it quick, because this is where we’ll be spending many of our summer days together!





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  1. I just read that article last week! Scared me senseless! I didn’t even know it existed, and its crazy how quickly and easily that can happen. Its definitely good for every parent to know about, good idea to post…and your story sent shivers down my spine. Eek!

    • Thanks, Jordan. And I bet you’ll share this scary unknown “condition?” with more people, too…which means mission accomplished. I just couldn’t imagine being a victim of something that was preventable!!! Terrifying. Thanks for the comment.

  2. That is sooo scary. And I’ve never heard of secondary drowning before, either! I don’t have a pool myself but we go to friends’ pools and whatnot so I’m glad you’ve told me about this. And don’t be modest, you’re a hero!

    • Thanks, Tina. Spreading the word and helping even one parent out there to prevent this from happening is exactly why I shared this. These kinds of things should be in a handbook for parents…that you get when you find out your pregnant!

  3. Wow Misty, in tears just reading this cause I also came across the same article on FB & it shook me to the core! Good thing us Moms have fast reactions! Thanks for sharing.

    • Tell me about it, Reno. I’m so glad I came across this article, too. It makes me wonder what other crazy close-calls to watch out for that i have no clue exist :(

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