From pools and ponds to rivers and lakes, Pennsylvania families seek out water-based fun during the summer months. Unfortunately, swimming and boating can lead to serious accidents with devastating consequences.
The use of the term “floatation devices,” or “floaties” for short, generally implies some sort of warning geared toward water safety. However, many parents believe that anything that floats can act as a safety device. The CDC advises that the only true floatation device is a life jacket. Further, they encourage parents and adults-in-charge to eschew the use of air filled or foam toys including water wings, pool noodles or inner-tubes rather than trusting a life jacket. Generally, three reasons support this recommendation:
- Floaties will likely teach ineffective floating and swimming postures: This type of floatation device is largely designed for fun and games. They do not encourage life-saving postures. These devices will teach the child that a vertical position is how to get air, when the opposite is true. Children do not learn to maintain their own buoyancy and will likely return to the unsafe vertical posture if they slip out of the floatation device.
- Floaties provide a false sense of security for adults: Too often, a parent will see the child paddling around with water wings or holding a group of pool noodles and assume all is well. Unfortunately, the child can slip out of the device or experience a dramatic change in position even while clinging to the floatie. The critical factor is that there is no substitute for effective adult supervision. In fact, preschool-aged children should experience “touch supervision” in which the adult is close enough to reach out and touch them at all times.
- Floaties provide a false sense of security for children: Children who paddle around a pool or pond using this type of floatation device might start believing they can swim. The young children might not make the connection that the floatie is the reason they can move around the pool, and they overestimate their own skill. Unfortunately, they might decide to swim away from the floatation device or get into the pool without it.
Pool and boat safety are crucial for children and adults alike. Drowning or other water-injuries can happen quickly and silently. It is wise to think critically about the possible trouble that can occur and choose safety over unbridled fun. Playing in the water can still be enjoyable even while wearing a life jacket.