Most children who drown in swimming pools die during the early months of summer--very quickly and quietly, the Prince George's County Fire and Emergency Services Department warns.

To avoid such accidents (the second leading cause of accidental deaths among children 14 and younger), the fire department recently issued safety tips for pool owners.

Starting out in shallow waters is key, fire officials said. Children often think they can jump in the pool and swim with the same strength that they did the summer before, but they need to work up their strength. Not understanding that point may be why 75 percent of Washington area drownings last year occurred in the early summer.

Other key safety tips:

-- Involve the entire family in swimming lessons.

-- Learn CPR.

-- Never rely on flotation devices.

-- Keep first aid equipment, a telephone and emergency numbers at pool side.

-- Install a four-sided, six-foot fence around residential pools.

-- Install a self-closing gate with a latch that is at least four feet above ground.

-- Install locks and a pool alarm if needed.

Last year, in the Washington region, more than 50 children 14 and younger died or nearly died in swimming pool accidents. Nationally, nearly 1,100 children drown every year, and for every child that drowns, four are hospitalized.