Brian White | June 8, 2018 | Summer Safety
Many American families enjoy pools during the hot summer months, and many children’s pool toys can be fun and safe ways to enjoy the water. However, several types of children’s pool toys can cause serious harm in certain circumstances. It’s crucial to know which toys could pose a danger to your children. Some devices like arm floats or water wings may appear to be safe and provide your child with buoyancy in the pool, but the reality is that these toys are not life-saving devices and can be quite dangerous.
Arm Floats or Water Wings
Many parents purchase water wings for their children to wear in the pool because they believe they work as flotation devices. While this is somewhat true, water wings are not a reliable safety device for many young children. It is very easy for a child to slip his or her arms out of the water wings. Additionally, water wings can instill a false sense of security in a young child. Constantly wearing water wings will teach a young child that if he or she jumps into the pool, the water wings will buoy him or her back up to the surface right away. Instead of allowing your child to build false confidence by always using water wings, it’s far better to teach them how to stay afloat on their own.
Parents should never assume that a child is safe in the pool just because he or she is wearing water wings. All young children should have constant supervision in any pool, and parents should start swimming lessons as young as possible. Many children can start learning to swim as early as 6 months old.
Another potentially dangerous device in your pool is the cover you use to keep the water clean when the pool is not in use. A pool cover usually attaches to the rim of the pool using fasteners. It’s common for teens to sneak into neighbor’s yards to use their pools while they’re away, and they may attempt to swim in a partially-covered pool. If this occurs at night, it can be easy for a swimmer to become stuck under the cover, potentially drowning.
It’s wise for pool owners to invest in fences and locking gates around their pools to keep out would-be night swimmers. Motion-activated lights around your pool can also warn you of someone attempting to use it at night.
Infant and Toddler Flotation Rings
Many inflatable devices for toddlers and infants exist that are essentially baby seats attached to inner tubes. While these can be fun for youngsters, they are not safety devices, and parents should never leave a child unattended in a flotation seat. These seats typically require the child to sit in a harness-like seat with his or her feet dangling below the seat in the water. If the child shifts his or her weight a certain way, it can cause the ring to flip over. Since the child’s legs fit through the holes in the seat, it can effectively trap him or her upside-down in the water.
Children can suffer severe injuries from oxygen deprivation, and death by drowning is a distinct possibility as well. Parents should never assume that a flotation ring designed to keep a toddler or infant afloat is an acceptable safety device and should always carefully supervise children in the pool.
When pool injuries occur due to children’s toys like water wings and flotation rings, it’s important for parents to understand that these devices typically come with clear indications that they are not functional as safety devices and children who use them require supervision. Carefully read the instructions and safety indications that come with any such device, and only use U.S. Coast Guard-approved flotation devices for safety.