(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 Prevention, in a statement. "It happens to real families, families with good, attentive parents who never thought it could happen to them."
There are ways to keep it from happening to your child, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They call it the "many layers of protection to prevent drowning."
"Close, constant, attentive supervision" around water
Parents or caregivers should never -- not even for a moment -- leave young children alone or in the care of another child anywhere near pools, spas, wading pools or bathtubs, even if a lifeguard is present. Most young children who drowned in pools had been out of sight for five minutes or less and were in the care of one or both parents at the time, according to a study by the