How to Avoid Dangerous Swimming Toys
A Word of Caution About Dangerous Swimming Toys and Flotation Devices
Is there anything more inviting than a backyard pool, aquatic centre or beach, when you find yourself sweltering in the heat of an Australian summer?
If you don’t have a pool, there’s a good chance your child is constantly begging you to take them to the closest home with a waterhole (and it seems that any friend, relative or casual acquaintance will do). We’ve entered that time of year when swimming toys come out of storage, and you see children racing each other on colourful foam noodles, which double as “water dragons”.
It’s easy to see why so many children look forward to summer, but their harmless splashing around can quickly take on a deadly tone, in cases where swimming toys and flotation devices create a dangerous environment.
Consumer protection experts have recently warned Aussies not to float on air loungers in the water, after two people nearly drowned. Anthea Chester told the Sydney Morning Herald that the fabric split and engulfed her daughter’s body, while she was in a backyard pool.
“She suddenly disappeared into the middle of it. She then emerged standing up, thank goodness, because the water was shoulder height and she was encased in the parachute material,” Ms Chester said.
This particular incident comes in the midst of a drowning epidemic that has claimed nearly as many lives as car fatalities. At least 15 people have drowned in NSW alone these holidays – putting water safety back on the radar.
Although swimming toys and flotation devices have their role to play in your child’s adventures, caution must be exercised at all times. Children under five face the greatest risk of drowning in backyard pools.
Swimming toys such as noodles, dive rings, floaties and beach balls can be dangerous if left in the pool, because children may try to grab these from the pool’s edge and fall in. We urge you to pack toys far away from the pool, check for any leakages and make sure they’re appropriate for your child’s weight and age.
There are certain toys that should be avoided completely, such as mermaid tails, which experts have warned about, after an American girl nearly drowned while wearing one.
These can be useful in teaching and recreational settings, but they also lure parents into a false sense of security, by giving the impression that a child can hold their own in deep water, even if this isn’t the case.
When choosing a floatie, make sure it fits well, which is based on weight, not age. You’re looking for a snug-fitting device that keeps your child’s head above the water and doesn’t restrict their arm movements too much.
Remember, floaties should never be relied upon as safety devices. Children should always be supervised and taught how to swim.