Turning the tides on child drowning
Rebecca Wear Robinson
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Toy or False Sense of Security?

by Rebecca Wear Robinson on June 29, 2011

I had the opportunity to read ‘Jabari Makes A Splash’ to a group of preschoolers recently. You can listen along on YouTube if you like.

When I got to the ‘who should and shouldn’t be here’ page with the afternoon group, we had quite a discussion about what was a toy and what kept you safe. I realized that the kids were mimicking what they have experienced or heard, and it was not just wrong, but potentially lethal.

Let’s test your knowledge of water safety. Which of the following items is a toy?

A. Water wings
B. Noodle
C. Inflatable ring
D. Kick board
E. Inflatable seat for infants
F. Swimsuits with floaties sewn into them
G. All of the above

If you answered G. you are correct. If it can inflate, it can deflate. If it’s not strapped to your child they can lose their grip. I saw a mother send a 2-year old into the Pacific Ocean wearing water wings because she truly thought they made her child ‘safe’. We’ve been conditioned, commercialized and convinced that all of the above items are ‘safe’. They aren’t – they are toys.

Unless it is U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest (or other country approved), it’s a toy and it won’t keep your child safe. Our local pool has a new rule ‘if your child is in any flotation device, the parent has to be within arm’s length’. Great rule. Toys are fun, they contribute to a child’s enjoyment of the water, but they won’t keep your child safe. If your child needs any of the toys listed to keep them afloat, no matter how old they are, stay within arm’s length.

By all means, buy the toys, because toys are fun, just understand that they are toys. You wouldn’t strap your child into a toy car seat, would you?

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