By Alexandra Pastore
May 22, 2015
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When I was younger, Memorial Day was more than just a three-day weekend; it officially marked the opening of all of the neighborhood pools. After long, cold winters my siblings and I would jump at the chance to splash in the water.

My parents were adamant that we learn how to swim at a very young age. For us kids, swimming was fun and athletic, but to my parents it was a lesson in water safety. The American Red Cross suggests that not enough parents encourage their children to learn water safety like mine did. It's time for that to change.

As part of this national campaign to raise awareness and reduce drowning, the Red Cross has released data from a national survey that finds 61 percent of children cannot perform these basic swimming safety skills:

  1. Step or jump into the water over their head
  2. Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute
  3. Turn around in a full circle and find an exit
  4. Swim 25 yards to the exit without stopping
  5. Exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.

According to the Red Cross, everyday an average of 10 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning. The organization aims to cut that number down by 50 percent in 50 cities.

No matter how often your family gets to the pool this summer, it's important to get your kids comfortable around water. For information on finding a class and for general information about water safety visit Red Cross Aquatics.

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Alexandra Pastore is the Editorial Intern at Parents magazine.