(CNN)Jenny Bennett found her toddler floating in her family's pool, face-down, fully clothed. The 18-month-old had crawled through their home's pet door. An ER nurse, Bennett started CPR and rescue breathing on little Jackson while her husband called 911.
Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for young children. Here's how to prevent it
Jackson was declared brain-dead after four days on life support.
"People automatically assume it happens to bad or neglectful parents," Bennett said.
She spent two years going over and over the mistakes she made and finally decided to go public as an advocate for swim safety in her community of Tomball, Texas.
Bennett thought she had taken the right precautions. She had two doors separating the house from the pool: a storm door over the back door and tight cover on the pet door. "We understood a doggy door was a risk for him to make it to the pool. We made it very clear that the dog door remains locked."
But that day was unusual. She had to pick her husband up from work after his truck broke down and grabbed her three kids. With no time to let the dogs out, she opened the dog door and left the house. "I was too impatient to wait for them."
When the family returned, she forgot it was open.
"There was a lapse in supervision. We thought he was safe upstairs with his sisters."
The Bennetts' story is not unusual. Nearly 1,000 children died from drowning in the United States in 2017. It's the leading cause of accidental death for children 1 through 4. More than 8,000 others nearly died by drowning, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"Drowning is fast, silent, and can happen even when it is not swim time," said Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, chairman of the academy's Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Preventio