For many families, summer is synonymous with pool time. Or spend time by the lake or at the beach. Most of my favorite childhood memories happened on the pool deck or on the beach. While kids are concerned with bravely diving into the abyss or holding their breath underwater, parents are rightly concerned with water safety. What is the most effective way to prevent water-related accidents? Are safety vests for swimming safe?
Water safety for children has become a major topic of discussion in recent years, and for good reason. "More children ages 1 to 4 die from drowning than from any cause other than birth defects," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some people started raising awareness after a personal tragedy to use a swim safety vest. Every parent's goal is to prevent the unthinkable, but just having a swim vest alone doesn't provide complete safety for a child. The use of swimming safety vests also requires parents to pay attention from time to time.
First, it's important to understand that a swim safety vest should not be used as a flotation or safety device. These vests may be helpful when you're helping your child learn to swim in the pool, but they don't keep your child's head above the water. Parents aren't the only ones getting a false sense of security from safety vests for swimming. When children wear flotation devices of any kind, they often mistakenly believe they are able to swim without assistance.
It's clear that swimming lessons are not only an enjoyable summer pastime, but also a way to learn potentially life-saving skills. But parents must be present and (always) not distracted to make sure their kids are safe when wearing a swim safety vest or near the water anytime! Adults throw away your cell phone, quit drinking, and save social events for another time to keep your kids engrossed.
Every year, hundreds of families face the unthinkable and suffer from the drowning of their children. Many of us, while we may not say it, hear these deaths and think, "This can't happen to me." But it can happen to anyone; these deaths cannot be attributed to negligence or bad luck parenting style. As awareness grows about the prevalence of child drowning and the pitfalls of common flotation devices, we can begin to avoid these horrific, all-too-common accidents.