URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported that 18 children died by drowning last year. But, experts have plenty of water safety tips to prevent that from happening this summer.

Crystal Lake Aquatic Center shift manager Alex Higgs said parents should always stay close to their kids, whether they’re swimming in a public pool, a lake or at home. And, it never hurts to wear a life jacket. If someone starts drowning, he said responding quickly is the most important thing.

“A lot of people have a misconception that drownings happen because water goes straight into the lungs. But what happens is as time goes by – could be as quick as a minute, two minutes, three minutes – that water will go into someone’s mouth, and instead of it going into the lungs, water is going to get swallowed into the stomach,” he said.

Even non-fatal drownings can have serious consequences, like long-term brain damage. That’s why he suggests taking every step to prevent drownings in the first place, like placing a gate around your pool at home and teaching children how to swim well.