Are pool toys safe?
They’re bright, fun, and everywhere. From blow-up rings to kickboards, most kids have a pool toy on their wish list. But are pool toys safe? The answer depends on the toy – and on how it’s used.
Flotation devices like water rings and swim rings are often used for some extra safety assurance in the water. But the problem is that these devices only give the illusion of safety. While they can be fun and may offer some added buoyancy, they won’t save a non-swimmer or a new swimmer if they find themselves in trouble. Wings can slip off, rings can rupture, and children can fall off noodles and tubes.
Not only that, but these devices can be counter-productive to learning how to swim by teaching your child movements and habits that are the opposite to what they learn in class. If you do purchase flotation devices for your child, make sure that an adult is always there to supervise.
Kickboards are often used by beginning swimmers as a flotation aid when kids are learning how to kick. But like floaties, kickboards can undo some of your instructor’s hard work. Because they keep a swimmer’s head and shoulders above water, they teach kids to kick in a way that’s unlike a normal swimming stroke. Not only that, but they can keep kids from becoming comfortable with putting their face in the water, which is a key skill for any beginning swimmer. Some swimmers may also find that their neck and shoulders begin to ache from holding a kickboard while swimming.
If you do want to use a kickboard, ensure that you’ve purchased a child-friendly board – these are usually light-weight and easy to grip. And never rely on a kickboard as a flotation device. Your child should always be supervised when in the water.
The idea of floating about on a raft sounds like fun, but these toys can pose serious risks to young swimmers. Rafts and other large flotation toys can overturn, trapping non-swimmers or beginning swimmers beneath them and posing a drowning risk. In addition to tipping over, they’re prone to deflating without warning, leaving young swimmers in danger.
The size and apparent stability of these toys can be deceptive, with parents mistakenly categorizing them as sturdy flotation devices. This isn’t the case – and what’s more, the size of these toys is partly what poses such a significant risk. Never leave a child unsupervised with a raft or large pool toy.
Life jackets are an essential safety device that can help reduce the risk of drowning when on open water. With 70% of all boating fatalities caused by drowning, life jackets can literally be a life saver. But they’re not an excuse to be lax with water safety – and they can be risky if not used properly.
Life jackets need to be properly fitted to the wearer so that they won’t slip out if they fall into the water. They need to be kept in good condition, with functioning straps, buckles and zippers, and without any tears in their fabric – and they need to be fastened properly.
While pool toys and flotation devices seem fun and exciting, they can very easily lull parents and swimmers into a false sense of security. Never mistake a toy for a life saving device—or the all-important life-saving skill of swimming, practice safe behavior in the water, and always actively supervise your child in and around the water.