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"Life Jacket" on a kid playing in the waves? - Page 2

post #21 of 48
When our children are young and not great swimmers we will often intentionally not use floaties on them in the pool (we don't live near an ocean) so that they can learn how to manage themselves and get a sense of reality. They prefer to use floaties because it makes them more independent and can go where they want in any water without fatiguing as quickly, but sometimes we will intentionally "forget" the floaties because we don't want them to rely on it, yk? The life preservers are terrible for learning to swim because they force the child onto his or her back in water any deeper than waist high.

Having said that, this is at a pool where there are no waves (unless you count the crazy teenagers jumping in nearby) and no undertow. I could see how someone who lives near an ocean and wants their child to learn how to be a very good swimmer in an ocean would make the decision to avoid life preservers in certain circumstances (like the pp who lives in HI) because looking at safety *long term* this might be the safer approach. But in the situation you describe I would definitely be using life preservers.

In any case, I agree with Steph that this is not a situation to offer your opinion. When it comes to safety I think the parent is the only one to make that call. As a parent when I'm taking a calculated risk I always ask myself "if things go wrong will I feel like I made the best decision I could with the information I had?" I would not want that on my shoulders for someone else's child.
post #22 of 48
We have 3 small children--two of which have special needs that impact impulse control and critical thinking skills and one is a toddler. They wear life jackets any time they're in water past their waist--they can't swim and don't have impulse control. They would go into an unsafe situation without thinking twice (and has...my 6 year old was walking on a pool deck and without thinking almost walked right into the deep end of the pool without realizing that it was not the same as walking on the deck. The only reason he didn't is because I caught him as his foot was over the water.)

There are three reasons they wear life jackets--one is because when they are at the lake or otherwise near water, I am usually the only one with all three of them. The second is because it helps them see which way is up if they fall in. Third is because when a child drowns, it is really quiet--they don't thrash or scream--they sink. It can happen in the blink of an eye. With a life jacket, they will float and I will be able to get to them instantly if they happen to get into trouble.

So, for a non-swimmer especially, life jackets are important parts of being near water.
post #23 of 48
I didn’t use one with my son. I agree to an extent that I want them to learn how to handle themselves in the water. My daughter, however, is another story. She has no fear in the water. She jumps away from me and tells me “I can swim” when she clearly can’t. I have lost her at the bottom of the swimming pool. I finally found her and pulled her up by the neck. She wasn’t fazed at all. Really, no fear. So we use a life vest (a cute puddle jumper). Otherwise, I am fighting with her constantly to stop her from trying to jump away from me into the deep water. She is almost 3. The swim lessons around here start at 3. (My son started at 3.5.) I decided I can’t wait so I signed her up for private one-on-one lessons. I want to get her out of the life vest as soon as possible. The rate things are going in lessons, she won’t need one next summer.
post #24 of 48
When I was growing up, we were all decently strong swimmers (dad was a former lifeguard, all of us used to water and in pools from a young age). But when we were at a "natural" body of water--for us, usually one of the Great Lakes--we wore life jackets to play in the waves until age 6 or 7.
post #25 of 48
I think it's an excellent idea to have a life vest on a child at the ocean. My memories are of the outer banks in North Carolina. The waves were really rough at times, the beach without a lifeguard, and my brother who was about 6 or 7, was almost dragged out. He couldn't get back in on his own. I could barely get myself back in (9 years older). Thankfully my uncle was a strong enough swimmer to help him back.

I don't use floatation devices on ds in lakes, ponds, or pools. But I sure wouldn't feel "safe" just because he was wearing one at the ocean.
post #26 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeguard View Post
I am very against the use of lifejackets in this manner. It gives the parents & children a safe sense of security & doesn't teach the child anything, not water safety or how to swim.

I will admit I occasionally put a lifejacket on ds to play in the water for a few minutes but then we take it off again. I do it more to give him a sense of how the buoyancy feels different in the lifejacket & for something fun to do.

I cringe everytime I see parents doing this with their children. I think there are some children who believe they cannot get wet without being in a lifejacket.

Plus, think of how darn uncomfortable they are!
I totally disagree with this.
My children were raised on the water and wore lifejackets every day. On the boat, on the wharves and yes, at the beach.
While they never gave me a false senses of security they did allow my three toddlers and myself a little more freedom than 'arms reach' would ever allow, especially on a beach with surf rolling in.

They're great swimmers, learned very young, and have a deep knowledge of water safety and a respect for the ocean. And while we, not the lifejackets taught them these things, the lifejackets kept them safe while doing it.

And uncomfortable? I would think brain damage from a near drowning, a spinal injury from being slammed into the sand by a rogue wave, or a body recovery would be far, far more uncomfortable than even the bulkiest lifejacket.

OP - I wouldn't say anything, the family in question is doing what they feel is best for their child. I would be seriously ticked if someone questioned me on it.
post #27 of 48
In a pool with proper supervision, I'm pretty opposed to lifejackets or other flotation devices. They give parents and kids a false sense of security and can be huge hindrances to properly learning to swim. But in the ocean or a choppy lake, a Coast Guard-approved PFD is a very good idea, especially for little ones who may not be strong swimmers or have the best impulse control yet. On some beaches, even an ankle-high wave can knock a grown adult down and sweep them out; you can imagine how much riskier it is for someone who is barely three feet tall.

22-month-old DS doesn't wear floaties or a PFD at the pool or at our summer lake, because both are very calm, controlled environments. But when we take him to the beach--ocean or bay--he wears a lifejacket. And I'm a former lifeguard and swim instructor and never out of arm's reach! But it only takes a second for a kid to slip under the surface and disappear forever. As a PP pointed out, drowning is nothing like what you see in the movies. Usually it's totally silent and unnoticeable. With a brightly colored lifejacket on, I will be able to immediately find him even if he can't call for help. Without one...the odds are slim.
post #28 of 48
My ds only wears a life jacket on boats that are powered by something other than me (sail boat, speed boat), or in rapids (where there are rocks that could knock him out).

But generally he does not wear one for things like kyaking in a lake, pedel boats, going to the beach (which we do several times a week)

He is a VERY good swimmer, but cannot swim and panicks when wearing a life jacket, which makes him freak out and drink water/choke on it. So if he is in a situation where I can grab him easily, he doesnt wear one - the times he does wear one he isnt actuall in the water with it on.

They require them at the waterpark for kids under 42", and it sucks for him to go in any water over his head because he doesnt know how to swim with one on. Without one, he is fine and can float on his back/swim/tread water - in our pool at home he can only touch on the stairs, but swims all over it no problem.

My vote is - its not unsafe for him to wear one in the ocean, UNLESS wearing one = less supervision. If he gets tumbled he will still go under even with one on, could swallow water, hit his head on a rock etc.
post #29 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by peainthepod View Post
On some beaches, even an ankle-high wave can knock a grown adult down and sweep them out; you can imagine how much riskier it is for someone who is barely three feet tall.
A little over a year ago, a family at our school lost it's mother and youngest child (5) because they drowned after being knocked over in ankle deep water by a rogue wave at a beach known for having a vicious rip current. The older daughter escaped because she managed to outrun the wave before it hit her.

If the little one had been wearing a life jacket, she'd probably be alive today.

I think it makes good sense to have a child wear a pfd at a beach. How many children actually know how to get out of a rip current?
post #30 of 48
I will say in my case, nearly all the beaches we go to barely have any waves, almost totally flat. The water just barely laps against the sand.
post #31 of 48

Agree the parents are doing what is in my eyes good safety measures.  I have 2 special needs kids out of 5 that we take swimming one is our 5 year old and one is my husbands Autistic 9 years old Arm bands are to small now so we are looking atcool kids Life jackets for them to wear at public pools here in NZ. In Our eyes its SAFETY FIRST. As long as i know the kids are safe who cares if others look sideways.

post #32 of 48

As a mom who in the past had been a certified lifeguard for a decade, I am very cautious about the ocean and rivers--anywhere that has currents or riptides that can go unseen.  As a very strong swimmer at the age of 13 I almost drown in an unseen current in the Youghiogheny River.  My 7 and 9 year old are not allowed in the ocean deeper than where the water is up to their knees at the lowest point in the wave cycle.  Even then there are sometimes waves that are bigger than they can handle, so I or DH must always be within arms reach.  Those are our rules.  We only go to the beach for 1 wk/yr and last year my oldest was an ok pool swimmer and youngest couldn't swim without floaties.  We kept the floaties on her and her older sister used nothing, since we didn't have a life vest, but if we'd had them, they both would have worn them.  I have been thinking of investing in them, as I believe they are the safest thing to use.  DD2 subsequently took swim lessons at a local pool and can now she can swim independently for small stints.  But by the time summer rolls around again, she may not remember her newfound skills.  So our rules will likely be the same this year.  IMO, I think there's a bigger risk of being lulled into a false sense of security thinking of the ocean waves as simply fun things for kids to play in than by putting a life vest on our LO.  We need to have a healthy respect for mother nature because she has zero respect for us.  That said, I still believe the *safest* arrangement is not just having kids wear life vests in the ocean but also by *always* also being within arms reach because drownings can happen in the blink of an eye.

post #33 of 48

I grew up near the ocean (Atlantic Ocean) and we currently live near the Gulf so we spend a lot of time in the water.  I have never put my kids in life jackets.  My gut has always said that it seems less safe, because a child is more likely to go deeper out and because the jacket is pulling them up, they have less grip/strength in their feet to hold them in an upright position and are more likely to get knocked about by the waves..  I'm very strict about how deep I allow my children to go.  In calm water (small waves) my 7 and 9 yo aren't allowed past their respective waists, and my 3-yo isn't allowed past his knees unless an adult is holding his hand at all times.  If there are moderate waves (and we never get really big waves), the 7 and 9 year old aren't allowed past their knees and the 4-yo not past his ankles.   We go to the ocean frequently and I grew up in the ocean, I feel that learning how to stand in waves, learning how to jump up and ride the wave and how to keep one's balance with the wave is important and since a life jacket increase buoyancy, I'm afraid it's going to throw balance off.  I'm not a lifeguard or an expert or anything, this is just my gut feeling.  I feel that having a safe, strong grip on the ocean floor while standing, staying in shallow water and being familiar with waves and how to ride them, and staying out of water known for riptides or strong currents is the most important factor for safety.  Where we live now, there is one beach which is known for having sneaky riptides and at the beach, swimming is prohibited.   Where I grew up, there was one beach that everyone *knew* was dangerous, and we never went there.  So, I feel like generally it is "known" where the dangerous beaches are, so doing research before going and swimming is also important.   This is for the Atlantic and Gulf anyway.  I've never been to the Pacific..I think the Pacific generally has higher waves and stronger tides, so that could be different.

 

In all of my childhood swimming in the ocean, I can only remember being knocked down by waves a few times, and then it wasn't a big issue to find my feet and stand back up again.  As soon as the wave passed, I quickly was able to get upright again and stand up, so I never felt in any great danger.  But, I also never went out very deep and was always cautious in that regard.

 

Now, if we my kids were ever on boat or anything, they would definitely wear life jackets.

post #34 of 48

I am also a former lifeguard and my kids all wear life vests when visiting the ocean. They are not allowed beyond their mid chests and the youngest (not a very good swimmer) is only allowed to wade.

 

At the pool or lake, they don't use flotation devices and I watch them like a hawk the entire time. (I am definitely not the mom thumbing through a beach read!) I am pleased that our favorite lakeside beach, where we do most of our swimming, enforces an impartial swim test for their deep area.

 

post #35 of 48
My kids always wear life jackets on boats, we live on a lake (well across the street, it's not in our back yard) and all the parents around here have the same rule. We also live near the Great Lakes, and I see probably better than half of the kids playing in the waves in life jackets, mine always do. Even my nearly 8 year old who is a pretty stronger swimmer. They do not have to wear a life jacket when swimming in our shallow lake with an adult in the water with them. If the adults are not planning on swimming, then they can go into their waist without a life jacket, but if they go deeper they have to have one. We're working on how we change this as DD gets older and becomes a stronger swimmer.

This summer I had a girl friend and her kids over to swim and we had this whole big discussion. Her kids are NEVER allowed in the water without life jackets, her son is also nearly 8 and can't swim. He can't swim because he is NEVER allowed in the water without a life jacket and they have not done classes. He is afraid of the water, I do think in part because she is always shouting at him about how dangerous it is. She feels I am teaching them bad habits by allowing them in without life jackets, ESPECIALLY without an adult. The problem I have here, is that she is not making an effort to teach them to swim, and at nearly 4 and nearly 8, I wonder when she will start teaching them or bending somewhat on this? Obviously, it's not my choice to make, but we live in Michigan and are surrounded by water. There are lakes everywhere. I want my kids to be able to swim.
post #36 of 48
Until they were proficient swimmers. heck yes! Better to look like you have a cautious mom than to have a slip and end up drowned.
post #37 of 48

Another really old thread revived...
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ameliabedelia View Post

This is for the Atlantic and Gulf anyway.  I've never been to the Pacific..I think the Pacific generally has higher waves and stronger tides, so that could be different.



I think this may be a big contributing factor in the differences of attitudes seen here.  I remember reading a book once, don't remember what it was, but a surfer from the W Coast moved to the E Coast with his family and was so disappointed at no longer being able to surf because the waves weren't big enough.  He actually was surfing during a hurricane because finally the waves were similar in size to the ones on the W Coast that he was familiar with. 

 

Where I grew up, the ocean was a force to be reckoned with.  You never turned your back on it, and if you couldn't swim you had no reason to be any further than ankle deep in it.  We live on a bay now, and I took DS to the beach last week, and was rather shocked (we never go to the beach).  I wouldn't have any problem with him wading here even at his age (2 yo).  There were no waves, just a gentle lap-lap-lap.  I've seen bigger waves on Lake Michigan. 

 

Another difference between the E and W coast oceans is the temperature.  On (most of) the W coast the average ocean temp doesn't hit 60 year round, and can get a lot colder than that.  Getting hit with a wave at those temps can knock your wind out and you can quickly lose feeling in your extremities. 

 

Where we are now, I wouldn't have a problem with water loving, autistic 2 yo DS going wading without a jacket.  But where I grew up, he would be wearing a jacket. 

post #38 of 48

It is an old thread!

I would not let my children wear life jackets at the beach over the age of 2. My children (6, 8 & 9) are not strong pool swimmers (9 year old is terrified of pools, go figure) but can manage in the ocean quite well.

We are at the beach at least once a week (Pacific Ocean) and I cannot imagine how they would swim across a rip in a floatation device. Most of the children stuck in the rips at the beaches we frequent are on floatation devices and cannot use their muscle strength to wade (or swim) across to safety, once the wind blows they're in the rip and have no control.

If they have no chance of using their own muscle power anyway (like my 2 year old) I may consider it but she would normally be in my (or Dad's) arms

post #39 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by aus5 View Post

It is an old thread!

I would not let my children wear life jackets at the beach over the age of 2. My children (6, 8 & 9) are not strong pool swimmers (9 year old is terrified of pools, go figure) but can manage in the ocean quite well.

We are at the beach at least once a week (Pacific Ocean) and I cannot imagine how they would swim across a rip in a floatation device. Most of the children stuck in the rips at the beaches we frequent are on floatation devices and cannot use their muscle strength to wade (or swim) across to safety, once the wind blows they're in the rip and have no control.

If they have no chance of using their own muscle power anyway (like my 2 year old) I may consider it but she would normally be in my (or Dad's) arms


But would a 3yr old know how to swim out of a rip?  And would those kids that get caught have the control/strength and knowledge of which way to swim had they not been wearing a lifejacket?  Many adults don't even know the 'procedure' for that, and just swim to shore until they are exahusted and thats when bad things happen. Its pretty unlikely that a young kid would know exactly what to do if they got caught in one, so it would be important for them to keep afloat until rescued.  Hopefully, parents/lifeguards are supervising well enough that they could go get the kid if they got caught and couldn't get back in.  

 

It is hard to swim in a lifejacket if you aren't used to it, and my ds who is an awesome swimmer has a hard time in one (just got a surf board, and I'm fine with him boogy boarding in the ocean on his own, he is 4).  BUT he has friends who wear lifejackets any time they are near water and they can move pretty quick swimming in one.   So it depends on the kid and what they are used to.

 

But I wouldnt consider not putting a lifejacket on a 3yr old based on the possiblity that they couldn't swim out of a rip if they had one on.  I'd be more worried that they stay floating if they panic.

 

post #40 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by leighi123 View Post


But would a 3yr old know how to swim out of a rip?  And would those kids that get caught have the control/strength and knowledge of which way to swim had they not been wearing a lifejacket?  Many adults don't even know the 'procedure' for that, and just swim to shore until they are exahusted and thats when bad things happen. Its pretty unlikely that a young kid would know exactly what to do if they got caught in one, so it would be important for them to keep afloat until rescued.  Hopefully, parents/lifeguards are supervising well enough that they could go get the kid if they got caught and couldn't get back in.  

 

It is hard to swim in a lifejacket if you aren't used to it, and my ds who is an awesome swimmer has a hard time in one (just got a surf board, and I'm fine with him boogy boarding in the ocean on his own, he is 4).  BUT he has friends who wear lifejackets any time they are near water and they can move pretty quick swimming in one.   So it depends on the kid and what they are used to.

 

But I wouldnt consider not putting a lifejacket on a 3yr old based on the possiblity that they couldn't swim out of a rip if they had one on.  I'd be more worried that they stay floating if they panic.

 



I guess the difference is in how we "play" at the beach.

I am always talking to them about what we're doing and why, they know what a rip looks like, what drowning looks (and sounds) like, where to go to get help.

 

I approach going to the beach in the same way as I do teaching them to cross roads; I carry them and talk to them about what's going on, ask questions to make sure they understand. Then they walk holding  my hand, still lots of communication, eventually they brake away from me with all the information I have (and hopefully some of their own too!).

For me, a life-jacket would really hinder the whole prcess.

 

I wouldn't let a 3 year old be near the water on their own! 

My children know how to swim across a rip, they know that if it gets too strong they should float on their backs.  I think a 3 year old should understand that.

 

My 2 year old doesn't really understand yet but by the time she's 3, I'd anticipate that she would.

 

I guess if I didn't know this information myself I'd probably just be too terrified to take them near the water!

 

 

 

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