Buying flotation devices for your kids is a daunting task, and you walk into a store and see a seemingly endless selection, from inflatable inner tubes with the latest and greatest cartoon characters to hydro foyers, noodles and life jackets. Many parents chose the once popular water wings that many of us grew up wearing. While they may seem like a good option due to their popularity, they're actually more of a toy than a safety device.
Hydrofoils are not approved flotation devices and can slip off easily, limiting a child's arm movement, accidentally leaking air and actually preventing a child from swimming. Another popular product is swimsuits with built-in floatation devices, but like hydrofoils, flotations can slide up or out. So which one do you choose? The answer comes down to a simple question parents need to ask: whether the flotation device has been tested and approved by the US Coast Guard (USCG)
When looking for a flotation set for your child, consider options that are appropriate for their weight, age and current swimming ability, and use them as a way for your child to feel safe in the water while learning how to swim and learning to swim in the pool. If you have a seven-year-old, let me show you how to choose a .
First: Choose the best life jacket for your event
The USCG classifies life jackets into five different types, but only type I-III is approved for use by children. Choose the jacket that best suits the type of activity and water conditions your child will encounter.
Type I: Marine life jacket
Best for: Prolonged survival in rough seas, open oceans or remote waters where quick rescue is impossible
Pros: Designed to keep unconscious people face up; A lot of buoyancy
Disadvantages: large size, long time wearing uncomfortable
Type II: Offshore buoyancy vest
Best for: Calm inland waters and the most general boating activity with the best chance of a quick rescue
Pros: Many turn unconscious people face up; It's smaller than type I
Disadvantages: does not turn all unconscious people face up; Not suitable for providing long-term support in rough seas
Type III: flotation aid
Best for: Calm, inland waters only
Advantages: the most comfortable and light; Easy to wear for a long time
Cons: Most aren't designed to keep unconscious people facing up; Not suitable for rough waters or high seas
Second: Understand the important functions of life jackets
When , make sure it is USCG approved and appropriate for your child's size and weight. For young children, it should have a ring at the back of its neck and a strap between its legs. (If you must use a neck strap to lift your child out of the water, the leg strap will ensure she does not slip out.)
Have your child practice swimming in a life jacket so he can see what it feels like to be in the water. Make sure the jacket fits properly and supports him adequately. Test life jackets at all times under close adult supervision in shallow water and controlled environments such as public or private swimming pools, or in calm waters such as lake bays.
Most drownings occur in calm inland waters. Most of the drowning victims were within a few feet of safety and had easy access to life jackets, but were not wearing them. Take the time to choose the best life jacket for your child's size and activity as well as water conditions, but don't forget the most important thing: the life jacket only works when you wear it.