According to Safe Kids Wisconsin, "Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years and children 10 to 14 years," but there are steps that you can take to prevent this tragedy.
Life Jackets and Life Preservers
It is very important to understand that personal floatation devices (PFDs) such as life jackets and life preservers serve a life-saving purpose in water emergencies and even during recreation; however, they can provide a false sense of security and, can interfere with proper technique when used during learning. That's why it's so important to never use a PFD as a substitute for adult guidance and supervision, or a child’s ability to swim.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds you only to use life jackets and life preservers that are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard which are indicated by a label as type 1, 2, 3, or 4, and for whom they are designed (child or adult). Choose from the following personal flotation devices (PFDs) approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Child PFD approvals are based on the child's weight. Check the user weight on the label.
Types of Life Jackets
TYPE 1: This type of life jacket floats the best. It is designed to turn most people who are unconscious in the water from the face-down position to an upright and slightly backward position. This jacket helps the person to stay in that position for a long time. It is for use in open water and oceans. It is available in only 2 sizes: 1 size for adults more than 90 pounds and 1 size for children less than 90 pounds.
TYPE 2: This jacket can turn a person upright and slightly backward, but not as much as the Type 1 jacket does. It may not always help an unconscious person to float face up. It is comfortable and comes in many sizes for children.
TYPE 3: This jacket is designed for conscious users in calm, inland water. It is very comfortable and comes in many styles. This life jacket is often used for water sports and should be used only when it is expected that the rescue can be done quickly. The US Coast Guard has approved a puddle jumper that can be worn in place of a Type 3 life jacket in calm, shallow waters.
TYPE 4: A life preserver is a cushion or ring and is not worn. It is designed to be used in 2 ways. It can be grasped and held until the person is rescued, or it can be thrown to someone in the water until they are rescued. It is not a toy and should only be used in a rescue situation. Check the label on the life preserver to be sure it meets U.S. Coast Guard or state regulations.
Life Jacket Safety Tips
Your children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats or near bodies of water.
Teach your child how to put on their own life jacket.
Make sure your child is comfortable wearing a life jacket and knows how to use it.
Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as instructed with all straps fastened.
Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts, and air mattresses should never be used as life jackets or life preservers. They are not safe. Puddle jumpers may be safe to use: look for a label stating that it is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection and to set a good example.
Safe Kids Wisconsin Water Safety Resources
Be Prepared. Learn CPR
Unfortunately, drowning is too common not to know how to respond in an emergency. When Minutes Matter, don't take a chance. Click below to find a Red Cross CPR, First Aid, and AED training course.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Pool Safely Campaign
This PSA from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) Pool Safely campaign aims to remind parents that kids can’t swim like fish and provides clear tips for how to keep them safer in and around water.
Click below to download the Pool Safely App! There are four fun games to help your kids learn how to stay safer around pools and spas, featuring fan favorites Splish and Splash.