It’s that time again — everyone from young to old are running… we mean walking to the nearest pool. We all love seeing families (especially the little ones!) get their swim on. With that in mind, there are a lot of dangerous elements at the pool, and believe it or not, letting kids wear floaties is one of them.

When you find arm floaties in the “summer essentials” aisle at your local store, keep walking! Why? Inflatable armbands teach children an improper vertical position in the water, instead of the correct horizontal swimming posture. Arm bands are not dependable life saving devices. These items can unexpectedly deflate, shift position, or come undone — creating a drowning hazard. “Water wings” give a false sense of security and allow the child to believe it is safe to be near water without adult supervision. Don’t let these devices falsely calm your nerves — stay focused on the water and your surroundings!

Flotation devices are not a substitute for parent or guardian supervision. With that in mind, unless the floaties are specifically Coast Guard approved, they are not recommended. To be safe, you want a flotation device that keeps your child from going under the water, keeps his/her face out of the water, and keeps his/her head upright. Essentially, that means using a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket or personal flotation device. Supervision in and by the water is EXTREMELY important. Parents should always be arm’s-length away from their child, regardless of the type of body of water you’re in. At the end of the day, a guardian’s eyes are the most important safety tool they have at their disposal.

But wait! Before you leave the store, keep an eye out for Stearns Puddle Jumpers. Puddle Jumpers have a soft body component along with the seal of approval from the United States Coast Guard. It’s comfortable to wear and doesn’t get in the way of learning to swim, but does a good job of adding extra buoyancy when needed. We suggest wearing a water watcher tag — a wearable tag that parents can use to make sure someone has an eye on the children at all times. We’ve created one just for you that you can print in the comfort of your own home. As a result, the adult present can NOT have any electronics in use. Also, there can not be any excessive chit-chat, or reading while they’re keeping an eye on the children in the pool. Safety comes first!

Enjoy the sunny weather, put that phone down, SCAN, SCAN, SCAN, and always keep your eyes open and ears alert during all pool activities!