McKnight Introduces Bill to Increase Awareness of ‘Dry Drowning’ Among NJ Parents, Caregivers of Children

Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight has introduced legislation to provide parents and caregivers of children with critical information that can save the lives of young swimmers in New Jersey.

The bill (A-5051) would require municipalities that have public swimming pools to provide information regarding “dry drowning,” which occurs when someone inhales water into his or her lungs but does not display any symptoms of distress until after leaving the water. Children are most often affected.

“The notion that a child can seem perfectly fine during a fun day at the pool and then be near death hours after leaving is terrifying for any parent,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “Making sure parents and caregivers know to look out for the signs of dry drowning can save children’s lives in New Jersey.”

The measure would require the Department of Community Affairs, in consultation with the Department of Health, to design, produce and distribute a poster and a one-page information pamphlet on dry drowning and its symptoms to each municipality in which a public pool is located. Municipalities would then be required to place the poster in a prominent area at each public pool. Municipalities also would be required to provide residents with a copy of the pamphlet annually, either upon their registration for pool membership or at the pool during the first two weeks it is open.

Dry drowning causes breathing difficulties due to airway muscle spasms, which ultimately can lead to asphyxiation. Symptoms, which may not appear until hours after a swimmer leaves the water, include: coughing, labored breathing, fatigue and vomiting.

The bill was referred to the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.