SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — Summertime is almost here and many of us can’t wait to take a dip in the pool! However, before you dive in, it’s important to be aware of swimming safety rules.

It can only take a few seconds for a child slip under the water or for a swimmer to become distressed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of death for children, which is why lifeguards say it’s crucial to be safe while swimming.

According to the YMCA of Salem, parents or guardians should always have their eyes on their children, even if they have floaties.

The organization not only requires children to take a swim test before being able to swim, but also measures their height to make sure water isn’t above their chest. They say this is a great at-home rule while around water.

Lifeguards stress it’s important to teach your children to stay away from pool drains. They say if a child gets too close they could get trapped underwater, another rule of thumb is to instill in your child to always ask for permission before entering the water. Whether the child is asking the lifeguard or their parents to enter the water. They stress by establishing this permission rule is making sure all adults know where that child is at all times.

“It’s really important to stay vigilant and always be aware of where your kid is at all times, even if you’re at a pool with a lifeguard. It’s still your responsibility to watch your child and make sure that they are staying safe and following pool rules,” said Callie Hammer, a YMCA swim lesson coordinator.

There is currently a lifeguard shortage across the country and across the Commonwealth, so it’s vital that all pool-goers be on alert.

There are also chances a lifeguard may not be available on open water, such as oceans, beaches, or even lakes. As a result, lifeguards recommend all children learn to swim and parents learn to perform CPR.

Before you dive in, here are some swimming tips from the American Red Cross to keep you and your family safe:

  • Always swim where lifeguards are present.
  • Never swim alone. According to the Red Cross, swimming alone can be dangerous — even for the strongest swimmer — because anything can happen, like hitting your head when swimming, as well as diving in, going unconscious, and drowning.
  • Never leave a child unsupervised near water. The Red Cross urges parents to teach children at an early age to always ask for permission to go near water.
  • Reach or throw, but don’t go. If you see a friend struggling to keep their head above water, find a long object to pull that friend to safety.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, which means no alcohol or caffeine.
  • Avoid distractions when your child is in the water. The Red Cross encourages you to choose a “water watcher” when you’re in a group of adults.

For more swimming safety recommendations, click here.