With the deaths of two children due to drowning, water safety experts are warning parents to keep a close eye on their kids when in the water.

Westmount YMCA aquatics coordinator Andrew Lawee said summertime can be deadly for those looking for a way to beat the heat.

“The numbers in May and June start to creep up,” he said. “It’s a big problem in Quebec. If you look at the South Shore for example, everyone has an above-ground pool in their backyard. Everyone is swimming, everyone goes to beaches. It’s part of everyday life.”

Lawee recommended getting kids familiar with water at an early age to ensure they grow up with swimming strong swimming skills.

“Sensitize them to aquatic activities as soon as possible. Take them as early as possible to come swimming with the parent,” he said. “Get them used to water. Don’t have expectations, I’m not saying pay for private lessons when they’re very young but they need to start learning how to swim as early as possible.

“A lot of parents for some reason don’t bring their child into the water until they’re seven, eight, nine-years-old. It’s too late, we need to get them in the water and swimming on their own at three, four or five.”

While teaching them to swim is a start, it’s not enough. Lawee noted that one of the children was attending a birthday party in Sherbrooke when they were found unconscious in a backyard pool. Several adults were present, one of whom performed CPR on the eight-year-old, who died on Monday.

On Friday, an 11-year-old boy was found dead in a residential pool in the Outaouais town of Chelsea.

Lawee said even if a child knows how to swim, vigilance is essential.

“Never take your eyes off your child. Always have someone responsible watching your child. If they’re unable to swim, they should be held in the water. We can’t trust flotation objects, they don’t replace caretakers.”

For birthday parties, he advised bringing kids to a public pool or hiring a lifeguard.

“The thing is, nobody wants to be the parent that has to sit alone, watching the children in the water,” he said. “But there has to be someone who is designated.”