Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer.
The school year is winding down and it won't be long before the kids will be enjoying the day splashing in a pool.
It is the perfect time to remember pool safety.
More than 300 kids younger than 5 drown every year in swimming pool accidents across the country, and more than 3,200 go to a hospital emergency room after a near drowning.
A child can drown in 2 inches of water in under five minutes and never make a sound. Children 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. Fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Having a pool in the yard is a great source of summer family fun and exercise, but pool owners have to practice safety to ensure everyone in or near the pool remains safe.
Parents can take children to swim classes at an early age. A child should not have to rely upon noodles or other flotation devices to stay above water. Even with swimming classes, young children should never be left alone unsupervised in a pool.
Pool owners need to have a checklist of safety gear that needs to be near the pool at all times. The list should include a ring buoy and reach pole. A first aid kit and cordless phone or cell phone, with a complete list of emergency contact numbers, also need to be readily available.
Pools should be surrounded by an appropriate fence, and the fence should have a self-closing, self-locking gate lock when the pool isn't in use or supervised. A secure cover also is a good idea to keep children from falling in while adults aren't present.
Visiting children should be closely watched. A curious child can sneak away to look at the pool while parents are busy talking, so check the pool first if a child is missing.
For above-ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured or removed when the pool is not in use.
Pools aren't the only place of summer swimming danger.
A trip to a lake or swimming hole can be just as dangerous, if not more, because young children can vanish in a matter of seconds. Don't take chances at swimming holes and never dive headfirst into the water.
Adults also need to remember that alcohol and swimming never mix, and keep an eye to the sky for approaching bad weather.
Summer vacation for kids is a happy time. But it can turn tragic in a matter of seconds.