WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio — This Memorial Day weekend, pools across Northeast Ohio open for the summer and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year about 4,000 people drown in the United States.

“Its one of the leading causes of death in children ages 1 through 4,” explains Owner of Gold Fish Swim School of Cleveland and Fairview Park, Sonali Morris.

“It’s something that’s preventable, formal swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent.”

Statistics are even more concerning for minority children.  “African American children 5-19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of whites,” according to the CDC.

“We need to make more progress in that regard and there’s many reasons. Why is it,” asks Morris. “Whether there’s availability of lessons, is it because of cost, accessibility, all different things.  I will say by virtue of being here in Warrensville Heights we definitely  see a lot of diversity in our swim lessons which is great.”

May is water safety month and Gold Fish is a sponsor of the USA Swim Foundation.  The company is helping to raise money so swim lessons can be given to kids who don’t have access.

“Our goal is for every dollar raised we are going to give back swim lessons to children in Warrensville Heights,” explains Morris.

Morris’ franchise also conducts a free water safety program for schools and community organizations.

She says if your child is not a strong swimmer to put them in a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.

“Don’t use inflatable flotation devices, they can pop, they’re not safe, you can turn your back for a moment and something happens,” she says.

“Watch them at all times, no distractions, eyes on the pool, eyes on your child.”

She also recommends getting in the pool and having fun with them.