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/ Source: TODAY
By Ree Hines

Memorial Day is the traditional kickoff of sun-and-fun season, and with it comes cookouts, weekend parties and ways to beat the heat — like taking a dip at a beach, pool or water park.

But for parents of little ones, those good times aren't all fun and games. Whenever kids are near the water, there are risks to be aware of and to prepare for ahead of time.

That's why our very own Dylan Dreyer and her 2-year-old son, Calvin, decided it’s the perfect time for some swim-safety lessons.

Calvin gets comfortable in the pool before he and his mom learn a few important safety lessons.TODAY

The American Red Cross says downing is a leading cause of death for children, and according to the CDC, an average of 10 people die each day in the U.S. from accidental drowning, and 2 of those deaths are among children 14 and under.

And for every child who dies, there are five more who require emergency care after near-drownings.

That's why it's so important to turn to an expert, like Jenny McCuiston, a two-time Olympic trials qualifier, who helps teach parents and children vital lessons about swim safety.

"[Calvin's] been in and out of lessons since, I'd say, he was one," Dylan revealed before asking, "What are some of the realistic expectations that parents will get out of swim lessons?"

The answer is: more than you might think.

Jenny McCuiston shares the basics with Dylan Dreyer and her 2-year-old son, Calvin.TODAY

"We teach kids how to swim as young as six months old," McCuiston explained. "They can take a few strokes. They can roll on their back. They can hold onto a wall."

But it's not all about teaching them skills. One of the most important things a child can learn is to simply be comfortable in the water so that fear and panic don't cause a deadly distraction.

For Calvin's lesson, that involved playing in the water — catching plastic balls and dunking them in a basket — to help him feel at ease.

Learning how to be safe is the first step to having fun in the sun this summer.TODAY

But, of course, children's lessons are just part of path to safe fun.

Water safety involves every member of the family, and the Red Cross has some important information to review before you even dip a toe into a pool.

Those tips include...

Make sure the whole family learns to swim.

That means being able to:

  • Enter the water
  • Get a breath
  • Stay afloat
  • Change position
  • Swim a distance
  • Get out of the water safely

Be a "water watcher" — even if there's a life guard around.

  • Provide close and constant attention to children.
  • Don't let your mobile phone be a distraction.

And teach children to ask before entering the water.

Visit the RedCross.org for even more tips, including home pool and hot tub safety.