An average of 10 people drown in the United States every single day, but not every drowning looks the same. Sometimes people will thrash and yell like in the movies. Other times people can slip below the water surface without making a sound!

There are many types of drowning that everyone should be aware of.  Below is a list of 5 types of drowning so that you can be on the lookout while you’re out by the water.

Child practicing pool dive

1. Wet Drowning

When people mention a drowning incident happen, wet drowning is what people are usually referring. Liquid floods the lungs and causes damage to lining. The swimmer isn’t able to take in oxygen and, without proper aid, can drown.

2. Dry DrowningSwimRVA Swim School child giving thumbs up in the pool

Dry drowning occurs in a small percentage of drownings. The larynx can block anything from getting into the lungs, including Oxygen.

Read Noah’s terrifying experience with dry drowning, and how he came back even stronger!

Theories on the presence of this include the throat closing before water enters; causing asphyxiation. Another theory suggests the heart suddenly stops and and goes into cardiac arrest.

Swimmers practicing backstroke

3. Active Drowning

The splashy, loud, attention grabbing situation that most people recognize in the moment. Active drowning is the response someone has when they recognize there is a chance they could drown.

Adults and older children are usually able to detect their danger beforehand, and have the ability to attempt to stay above the water while still drawing attention to themselves.

Parent and child in swim lessons

4. Passive Drowning:

Contrary to popular belief, drowning is oftentimes a silent event. Passive drowning occurs when someone submerges and is unable to resurface. It usually occurs to small children due to lack of knowledge or physical ability to make it back to the surface.

Practicing back stroke at station 2 of SwimRVA Swim School

5. Secondary Drowning

This is one that most people are unaware of. If you have had a near drowning experience where you inhaled even just a small about of water, you are at risk.

That small amount of water damages the lining of your lungs causing inflammation, loss of oxygen being processed, fluids filling the lungs, and even death.

Secondary drowning could occur hours and days after the near drowning incident, so victims should have their vitals checked as soon as possible no matter how they feel.

Ways to Prevent Drowning:


Learn to Swim

Learning how to swim is a potentially life-saving skill for both you and those around you. 

A 2014 survey conducted by the American Red Cross revealed only four in ten parents of children ages 4-17 report that their child can perform all five basic swimming skills, but about nine out of ten say that their child is likely to participate in water activities during the year!

Read more about how long it takes to learn to swim look for programs with certified swim coaches

IMG_7794Don’t Swim Alone

  • Always supervise children when by water.
  • Always swim with a buddy and let someone on shore know where you will be swimming.
  • When possible, only swim in areas supervised by trained lifeguards.


Prepare Beforehand

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