WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Eleven year old Jahney Gaillard started swimming classes three years ago. A scare with her older sister made lessons a top priority.
"When she was two years old, we went to a family reunion and at the pool she almost drowned," says her mom Sabrina Gaillard.
Jahney is one of hundreds of children who get free lessons and learn the basic water skills that can save their lives.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is pushing for more swimming programs in minority communities.
According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, black children between the ages of 5 and 14 are three times more likely to drown than white kids.
CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum says, "Seventy percent of African American children and 62 percent of Hispanic children do not know how to swim, and that is alarming in this country."
About 400 children younger than 15 die every year in a pool or sap. And three quarters of those deaths involve children under age 5.
"To conquer whatever fear they have of the water, especially for the ones who don't start as young as they possibly can. So, the younger the better," says swimming instructor Amanda DeJesus.
Joseph Reyes wants to make sure his son Gavin knows the basics from the beginning.
"I've been teaching my kids to swim since they were very little," he says.
And children can start to learn how to stroke as young as four months old.
D.C. Department of Recreation Aquatic Programs
Montgomery County Aquatic Programs
Prince George's County Aquatic Programs
Fairfax County Aquatic Programs
Prince William County Aquatic Programs
Loudon County Aquatic Programs
City of Alexandria Aquatic Programs
Arlington County Aquatic Programs
If you're child is learning to swim, a life jacket is a must, whether you're at a pool or the beach. Check to be sure it is U.S. Coast Guard approved.
And, the single most important thing parents can do while your child is in water of any type is to always have a designated pair of eyes on them.
If you have a pool at the home, make sure it is fenced in and learn CPR.