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panic sets
personal flotation device
arms and legs
knowledge knowledge
knowledge is power
emergency situation
Sink Or Swim - Is Your Childs Lifejacket On?
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Being prepared for a water emergency takes planning. For a personal flotation device to work effectively it must fit properly. While we are fitting our children – teenagers down to infants – we need to explain to them what we are looking for and why. We have offered some suggestions in this article on how to present to your children this lesson on water safety and wearing a life jacket. You will find the more they understand, the more willing they are to participate.

For the first part of the lesson you might choose to discuss how to handle the water emergency situation. The kids are used to talking about preparing for fires in school, drop and roll, using a fire extinguisher. At home they are taught how to dial 911 when there is an emergency. Young children have learned to recite their address and phone number in case of emergency. It is time we include water safety in our instruction as well.

Before we talk specifically about the life jackets let’s just talk a minute about how we react when something that scares us happens all of a sudden. Well of course we panic! Child or adult that reaction is the same – we are scared! Our reaction is natural. That’s okay. But what is the next step? We must learn to think ahead and tell ourselves and those around us, “It is time now to be calm. We will be ok. We need to think this through.” If we teach our children to become calm, then they will be able to help themselves until they are rescued.

When a child falls into the water suddenly, panic sets in, the child will violently move his arms and legs in the water. This violent motion makes it hard to float. The child is likely to swallow water which makes the moment even more frightening. However, if a child practices and experiences floating in the water while wearing a PFD then the child builds confidence based on knowledge. Knowledge is power. Then in the event of an emergency the child will be able to move more quickly from panic to calm.

What most parents do not know is that one style of jacket or vest may not necessarily work well for each of their children. If you think about it for a minute we are all made different. Different weights, bone structures, even different buoyancy abilities. So a long slender sibling may need to wear a different style vest than a shorter heavier sibling. The sibling who is afraid of the water and is not a good swimmer will probably need a different jacket than the sibling who loves the water and swims with ease. These facts need to be pointed out to kids. They will understand then why they may not all own the same jacket. A good point to make here as well – it is much easier for the rescuer to be looking for jackets of different color/style when looking for people floating in the water. Makes the head count easier.

So after you have purchased some life jackets, try them on and make sure they fit properly. Most importantly give the kids an opportunity to try them out in shallow water and make sure that each child floats well with their head above the water. Give them time to learn what floating around, in a calm state of mind, feels like.

Teach the kids there are life jackets designed to hold an infant or child usually a non-swimmer in a horizontal position with their face high above the water so they can breathe air not water. On the contrary there are vests designed for swimmers who will just need to float and will be okay bobbing in a vertical position until they are rescued. Some children will feel much more comfortable with the life jacket that will float them on their back even if they can swim. Then they know they can just float and not work hard. Others will feel more comfortable bobbing vertically so they can see what is going on and they can swim around more. While we are at it – teach the kids how to toss a cushion or a ring buoy into the water. Let them practice. If they have practiced even a little bit then performing in a real emergency is just that much easier.

Understanding and preparation is everything. Our kids are smart. They learn very quickly. It is our job to provide them with the knowledge and skills. Practicing is fun too! Now go have some fun in the water!

Author Bio: Kris Galvin - Water Safety Advocate and Registered Nurse.


Street Talk

Hi I have 4 grand kids who love boating so it is important that they get the right message to be safe on the water. Will show this article to their mums. Cheers Frank

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Hi Frank, I appreciate that you took time to read my article and I love to here that you will share it with your grand kid's mums! Enjoy the water! Best, Kris

Reply
  about 5 years ago
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