The Unspoken Danger of Floaties
In the summertime, with the boiling heat of the sun, kids out of school, and parents looking for some cheap entertainment for the kids, most parents won’t think twice before getting some tickets to the water park, heading out to the lake or taking a walk to the community pool. They also won’t think twice before heading over to Walmart or the Dollar Store and picking up a cheap pair of arm floaties.
Nearly all floaties, mainly the arm/waist floaties that you just blow up and buy for five bucks are death traps. I have honestly seen way too many times incidents where a parent throws some arm floaties on their kid at the pool, then sit back on a chair, on their phone, paying absolutely no attention to their kid, then bam- the inevitable happens. The cheap floaties slip off and the kid has no idea how to swim, and they will sink faster than Caleb Dressel swims the 50 freestyle.
It baffles me that I see this so often, but the same floaties are continually being used. Why they aren’t off the market or banned for that matter baffles me. So now, let’s get into the facts. Cheap plastic blow up floaties have been proved time and time again to be utterly horrible for children. But unfortunately, they are advertised much more than their safe coast guard approved alternatives. A common question from parents is simply how and why floaties are so dangerous, and the answer is simple. For one, air filled plastic is nowhere near strong enough to support the weight of any child, especially in water. The second reason, people assume it to be true that floaties make their child drown proof, and when I hear that I laugh. I’m going to tell you a fact right here- nobody on this planet, not even Michael Phelps, is immune from drowning.
Once people are told this information, the next question is almost always, “Well, then what is safe?” And the answer is even more simple. Life vests, that go around the entire torso and close securely. You should only, and I mean only, ever buy a Coast Guard approved flotation device, and while it may be more money upfront, you are protecting what should be something more important, and that is your child’s life and safety. But, just know that not even life vests make kids drown proof and they still require supervision from parents always near any body of water.
These are all things that are promoted at reputable swim schools and drowning prevention programs. One local swim school that we interviewed, Sigma Swimming, stated: We will have children come in, terrified to even set foot in the water without their floaties on the first day and not too much later they’re competing in meets. Coaches at Sigma frequently encounter parents with very young children who can’t swim. We will tell them to only use Coast Guard approved floatation devices when going to their local pool, and they are stunned once we tell them that they should only use flotation devices that are Coast Guard approved. “What, no arm floaties?” They often say with shock.
Simply put, floaties can and will kill, especially if the child has no proper swim lesson experience, hence one of the reasons it is so important to put your kids in swim lessons, and not just in the summer. It is vital that the program is year-round (kids don’t learn to swim in two months folks!), the coaches are properly certified and educated, and use of floatation devices is highly discouraged.
The use of common arm/waist floaties is not acceptable, should never be encouraged, and should never be a lifesaving device. Children should wear life vests and Coast Guard approved life vests are always the way to go. Never settle for common, cheap plastic, deathtrap, floaties because at the end of the day, your child’s life and safety should be what matters the most.