Water Safety Equipment For Kids: Floats, Life Vests And Other Gear

When your youngster is ready to learn to swim, there are certain items that are required to keep him safe.

If you have a little one, you probably take great joy in watching them learn and try new things. As you introduce your child to new activities, you must also teach them the safety rules that could save their life.

One place that requires extreme safety precautions is a lake or pool. Your tot probably likes to frolic in the tub, play with toys, splash and get wet while at home. Your natural inclination is to broaden his horizons and introduce him to larger bodies of water. There are several safety items that you should purchase before introducing your little one to swim play.

The most important item for your child to have when boating, swimming or wading is a life vest. Commonly referred to as a life jacket, this life saving device can keep your child above water long enough for you to rescue him in the event of a disaster on the water. When choosing a life vest, look for one that is Coast Guard approved. If your life vest carries this seal, you should then look at the weight limits, also printed on the inside of the jacket, to determine which will best suit your child. Infants and toddlers need vests that have leg straps and a floating flap at the back that will keep your child's head out of the water. The leg straps will fit tightly around your baby, keeping the jacket from slipping over his head. Look for life jackets that have secure closures on each strap. Always use a jacket that fits your child.

Many of us feel led to purchase life jackets at flea markets and yard sales in order to save some money. Be sure to check used jackets to ensure that the fabric is still intact at the seams. Because they are exposed to moisture, many jackets will dry rot and will no longer be safe for your child. When a jacket is older, it can also lose some of its flotation. When in doubt, you can take the life jacket by your local Coast Guard station and get their professional opinion about its worthiness.

If you have a toddler or young child who is learning to swim, you might also benefit from a kickboard that will help your child stay above water. Kickboards are small Styrofoam boards that your child can lay on to learn to kick their legs and paddle their arms. They can help to ease some of the fear that comes with getting your face wet, as they keep their head and torso above water. Your child should never be strapped to the board as they can drown if the board is inverted. It's possibly that they would be unable to flip it back over. A kick board should not be used as a life saving device.

You may be tempted to purchase floats that go on your child's arms, legs, or around their waist. These items are unnecessary and can be potentially dangerous when used as flotation devices. These items can often be found in toy departments at local stores. That's because these items ARE toys and should be used as such. They are meant for play and not for safety.

When in doubt, purchase items that are Coast Guard approved and will keep your child safe. Play items should be used with caution and always with adult supervision. Water can be fun for your child but can also be very dangerous. Have fun and be safe.

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