As spring steps onto the scene, thoughts turn to hot summer days spent at the swimming pool. Now is the perfect time to consider swimming lessons for your children, so they’re ready to dive in this summer with safety in mind. Nationwide, drowning is still one of the leading causes of accidental death in children under five years of age, and sadly 70% of all preschoolers who drown are in the care of one or both parents at the time. More than half of drownings among children ages 1-4 are pool related. With pool safety in mind, here are four questions to ask yourself this spring.

When should I enroll my child in swimming lessons?

If your kids don’t know how to swim, spring is the perfect time to enroll them in (indoor!) swimming lessons, so they can jump right in with confidence this summer. “Swim lessons are a vital part of a child’s development,” shares John Hale of Chicago’s British Swim School. “Lessons can begin as early as 3 months old with Mommy & Me or Daddy & Me style programs that expose children to comfort and survival techniques in the water. There have been many studies on the benefits of swim lessons at an early age.”

What skills are the most important for my kids to grasp ASAP?

“The most important life saving skill that everyone, child or adult, should learn first and foremost is what to do should they ever get into trouble,” explains Hale. “We teach all our beginner students to roll over and float on their backs – thus alleviating the dangers of face down floating or, commonly known, as silent death. Exposing children to a swim program early in life will give them comfort and independence in the water as well. So many older children enter our program at an older age and are full of anxiety and, in some cases, fear of the water. After we teach children the survival techniques, they have a foundation that we can build on. Then we can introduce propulsion, swim strokes and up to team level skills.”

How can I help make sure that my kids stay safe?

Swimming kids need constant vigilance. It can take a child less than ten seconds to drown. If you’re hosting a pool party, choose a dedicated “Pool Watcher” – someone who is assigned to keep their constant eyes on the children swimming in the pool.

Where can I learn life saving basics?

Far too many children die or are permanently brain-damaged because CPR wasn’t performed in the time it took for emergency services to arrive. Learn the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency. The American Red Cross offers both online and in-person workshops on both CPR and first aid. For more information, visit redcross.org/take-a-class.

Finally, make sure your kids know the Pool Rules.

  • Always have an adult watch you when you are in a swimming pool.
  • Always obey the pool rules.
  • Swim with a buddy at all times.
  • Swim at a depth that is safe for you.
  • Don’t push or jump on others.
  • Don’t chew gum or eat while you swim because you could choke.
 Happy safe swimming!