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Infographic stating that floaties are not coast guard approved for pools

What does “Coast Guard Approved” Really Mean?

Did you know this?

Infographic stating that floaties are not coast guard approved for pools

From a US Coast Guard Statement regarding flotation devices in 2020:

The US Coast Guard only approves flotation devices for use on water vessels. They DO NOT evaluate or approve the safety of devices for use for any other purpose. They do not evaluate any device for use as a “swim aid” and they note that there is NO widely accepted regulatory definition for the term “Swim Aid”.

ANY use or misuse of personal flotation devices beyond use on water vessels is outside of the regulatory authority and jurisdiction of the US Coast Guard.

“The Coast Guard never intended for flotation devices to be taken to the pools for use there.”

The makers of Puddle Jumpers in particular really focus on the fact that they are “Coast Guard approved” and they market them as a “Swim Aid”. But what all those statements are is PURE MARKETING. It’s a way to get you to think that they are safe and then go and buy them. They are NOT true statements of the actual safety of these devices.

The Coast Guard never intended for flotation devices to be taken to the pools for use there. Makers of the devices saw a market for it and brought it there. Parents, worried for their kids, believe the marketing and brought them to the pools.

I have to ask, knowing that now, will you trust the marketing departments or the swim instructors and water safety professionals with your child’s safety?

The marketing departments will have you believe that you are keeping your child safer with these devices on. But marketing departments aren’t trained in water safety. They don’t spend every day on water safety. They spend their days working out how they can sell you more devices. They spend their days thinking of and using catch phrases and buzz words to draw you in.

Water safety professionals and swim instructors focus EVERY DAY on how to keep your kids safer around the water. They are dedicated, not to getting into your wallet, but to learning and teaching how to keep your family safer around water.

What are many of us water safety professionals seeing as a pattern with ANY flotation devices used consistently in swimming pools?

-FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY-Young children end up believing they can swim with or without the device on and there is a consistent pattern of them being more likely to go back into the water without their devices on and then drowning, because they didn’t realize that they can’t “swim” without it on.

You feel safer with the device on the kids, so you won’t keep as close of an eye on them as you would if they didn’t have one on. You only focus on when they have it on, and don’t realize that they are developing a belief that they themselves can float, with or without the device. Then, in just the few minutes it takes to sneak away from you and back to the pool without the device on, they drown.

We have seen this same scenario, over and over again. It happened with my child and I can name many, many others that this happened to as well.

It ALMOST NEVER happens due to neglect. All cases of child deaths are investigated thoroughly. In very, very few cases are the parents found to have been neglectful. In very, very few cases are the accidents a result of parental neglect. That is an unfair stigma that punches parents who are already down and needs to stop.

-DROWNING position-These devices put your child in a vertical position in the water, and with consistent use, they teach your child that this is the position they need to automatically get in when they get into water. This position is also known as the drowning position. Not only is this position incredibly hard for instructors to unteach, it is the position that most drownings occur in.

You want your child to learn a horizontal, life saving position in the water. These devices teach the exact opposite of that.

Instructors can tell a puddle jumper user from a non-puddle jumper user just by seeing their posture in the water.

-USE OF THESE DEVICES AFTER SWIM LESSONS CAUSES THE CHILD TO UNLEARN THEIR SKILLS! Instructor after instructor after instructor has told us that using flotation devices regularly in pools after lessons basically erases the skills the children learned while in lessons.

I ask again, who will you trust with your child’s safety….with their life? Good and cute marketing that cares only about your credit card or professionals and mothers who have lost children this way, who put their vulnerability and mistakes out there for you to learn from, because they TRULY care about YOUR child’s life?

NOTE: US Coast Guard approved life jackets should ALWAYS be used in and around open water, because of the unpredictability of natural waters and the fact that kids are largely not participating in swimming while in and around open water (so that bad positioning and false sense of security will not be perpetuated there).

So, what can we do instead?

1) Get in the pool with your child. Allow them to learn what their bodies can and can’t do in the water. Always be within arm’s reach of any non-swimmer.

If you can’t have one on one touch supervision, save pool visits until you can. Take the kids to the splash pad instead. Take them to the pool when more adults are there or take them one at a time as a special one on one time with you, while the other children are home with another care giver.

2) Get your young kids into survival swim lessons. They can learn to be their own flotation devices at 6-7 months old, as soon as they can sit up well on their own. Check out infantswim.com, infantaqutics.com or survivalswim.net for instructors near you and more information on these lessons.

Get your big kids into swimming lessons that focus on safety around water.

3) Use the other layers of protection:Pool fences that are made of mesh, completely surround the pool, have a self closing and self latching and locking gate and is at least 5 feet high. Check out Life Saver Pool Fence Systems

Locks and alarms on all windows, doors and dog doors leading to water.

Learn CPR and make sure there is always someone who knows CPR with you around the water. Remember that for drowning victims, rescue breaths are the KEY to rescue. They need that Oxygen!!

“I ask again, who will you trust with your child’s safety….with their life? Good and cute marketing that cares only about your credit card or professionals and mothers who have lost children this way…”

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