Summer Swim Safety Series :: Part 2

Our partners at Goldfish Swim School Johns Creek have more essential information to share with us for our summer safety series… 

Floaties, Mermaid Tails and other personal floatation devices: What’s safe and what’s not?

Parents are likely seeing a range of floatation devices and other pool toys and props at their neighborhood pools this summer. What’s safe? What’s not? What do parents need to keep in mind when it comes to deciding whether to allow their child to use these various devices? We reached out to Mark Sheppell, the owner of Goldfish Swim School Johns Creek for more information.

Should my child learn to swim with a life jacket, puddle jumpers or water wings on?

When your child is learning to swim with a qualified swimming instructor, personal floatation devices are not needed. At Goldfish Swim School, we believe that learning to swim without some sort of floatation device actually helps kids build their confidence in the water quicker. Those bulky devices can hinder proper swim movements and progress. Water wings aren’t U.S. Coast Guard-approved floatation devices and they can slip off or leak air. The same goes for those bathing suits with the floaty built in: It can ride up and not provide the safety you expect it to.

When should my child wear a life jacket while swimming?

When to put your child in a life jacket while swimming at the beach or a pool is your decision, since you – as the parent– know your child best. Factors to consider include your child’s swimming ability, pool vs. open water such as an ocean or lake and the constant supervision you’ll be providing (right there next to her, or watching from a few feet away).

When does my child need to wear a lifejacket on a boat or other water vessel?

Even if your child knows how to swim, accidents can happen on a boat that render your child unconscious or unable to use his or her swim skills – so a life jacket must ALWAYS be worn on a boat. Laws vary by state, but generally, if your child is younger than 13, is above deck and could potentially land in the water – either accidentally or on purpose – he or she needs a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. We recommend that everyone wear a life vest regardless of age and swim ability. Better to be safe.

What type of lifejacket should my child wear?

It can be confusing when you go to the store to buy a life jacket for your child and there are different types, but it’s vital the life jacket you use has the USCG approval on it – AND the life jacket must fit your child properly right now (not when he or she grows a little bit!). The fit matters because if your child’s head or ears can slip down beneath the life jacket, the device won’t be able to work as designed to keep the child’s head above water and allow for proper breathing.

Are mermaid tails safe for kids to use in public pools?

We recommend not allowing the use mermaid tails and similar ‘mono-fin’ appendages in public pools.  Even their manufacturers state that they require you to be a strong swimmer in order to use them safely. At a busy pool environment, testing who is and who is not able to swim with a tail is a difficult thing for lifeguards and staff to do. In addition, aquatic safety isn’t just about any one individual—these tails are bulky and hard to control and there is a risk that they could strike other swimmers.

What are your thoughts on puddle jumpers?

Puddle jumpers (as long as they are USCG approved) work better in the pool where the water is more controlled and a responsible adult is close by. Just be very vigilant as they can slip off the arms of children who don’t meet the weight requirements. However, for boating or open water, a child should be wearing a USCG-approved life jacket as they offer the most safety.

The water and swim safety experts at Goldfish Swim School have partnered with us to share important information and practical tips with us all summer long. Check out our post about general safety and check back for an upcoming post with information on water safety skills that parents can work on with their kids anytime they are together in the water.

Goldfish Swim School Johns Creek provides swim instruction to children ages 4 months to 12 years-old in a unique setting with highly trained instructors, small class sizes (max 4:1 student to teacher ratio), shiver-free 90-degree pools, and a state-of-the-art water purification system. In addition to swim lessons, Goldfish Swim School Johns Creek also offers weekly family swims (for both members and non-members) and birthday party packages. For more information or to register for lessons, visit the website or call (770) 744-0250.

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