They come in many different types, shapes and colors. You can get them at every supermarket, every sports shop and they have been recommended as 'safety' products for babies and children since we can remember. So, what is the most dangerous pool toy you own?
Answer: Anything that aids your child to float in the water.
Now, this sounds difficult to understand right? The truth is very different from what you have probably believed your entire life. For so long we have been made to believe that flotation aids are 'SAFETY' products, they protect our children and we should use them should’t we? WRONG!
Let’s see what these ‘safety products’ actually do to our children and us…
1. They give CHILDREN a false sense of security - they think they can swim when actually they can’t. A toddler or young child cannot recognize that it's the flotation aid that's actually keeping them up and without them, they would sink. It doesn't matter if you tell them a 1000 times that they cannot swim, a child will be a child and will still not recognize this.
2. They give ADULTS a false sense of security - Adults can become less vigilant when their children are wearing flotation. We are human, stuff like that happens a lot, but if your child was not wearing a flotation aid, you would be far more vigilant.
3. Poor design - flotation aids can easily FAIL. They can slip off or even burst/deflate! Add this to an adult with a false sense of security, being less vigilant and.. well it isn't worth thinking about!
4. Your child is being taught the wrong position in the water to get air - A flotation device teaches a child that the best position in the water is vertical to get air. This is not true, the best position in water for air is on your back in a float position to rest and enable your child to breathe.
So, now that we know the dangers, how do we recognize a flotation device? Well, ‘floats’ include arm bands, baby seats, pool rings, pool noodles and anything that is branded a swimming aid. For added evidence, here’s a statistic:
In the world health organisation’s 2014 global report on drowning, swim aids were NOT included in their list of the top 10 actions that can prevent drowning. WHY? People still drown whilst wearing flotation aids.
In all honesty, most of us parents have been misled, we have all used flotation aids to make our own lives easier, not knowing the dangers.......But now you do! What you do from here on in is up to you.
Be safe, NOT sorry.