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

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#31 of 48 Old 01-13-2012, 11:10 PM
 
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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.

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#32 of 48 Old 01-14-2012, 06:36 AM
 
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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.


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#33 of 48 Old 01-14-2012, 02:10 PM
 
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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.


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#34 of 48 Old 01-14-2012, 02:26 PM
 
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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.

 

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#35 of 48 Old 01-17-2012, 02:23 PM
 
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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.

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#36 of 48 Old 01-17-2012, 02:41 PM
 
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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.
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#37 of 48 Old 01-17-2012, 04:12 PM
 
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Another really old thread revived...
 

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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. 


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#38 of 48 Old 01-17-2012, 05:35 PM
 
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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

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#39 of 48 Old 01-25-2012, 05:51 PM
 
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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.

 

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#40 of 48 Old 01-25-2012, 07:10 PM
 
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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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#41 of 48 Old 01-29-2012, 11:07 AM
 
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But it's one thing to know in theory how to swim if you get caught in a rip; it's an entirely different thing to remember what to do in the panic of the moment if you actually do get caught in one.  Even as a strong swimmer at 13 years old (2 yrs before becoming a certified lifeguard myself), I knew, in principle, what to do if I got caught in a river current, but when I found myself actually caught in one, I almost didn't have the presence of mind to draw upon that knowledge and act on it, and only very narrowly escaped disaster.  I think it's a pretty tall order to expect a preschooler to have that capacity.  As I said before, mother nature has no regard for us.  She can be cruel and couldn't care less that it's just a little kid's life she takes... Nothing to "play" with IMO.  There are plenty of "unnatural" things we do all the time and take for granted.  Being land creatures who breathe air, we absolutely need to be able to surface to survive, just as whales and dolphins do.  That is what a lifejacket does for us if all other things fail.  Just like moving at a speed that vehicles take us is "unnatural" and thus we need protection (seatbelts, car seats, airbags, etc.) just in case that momentum meets a stopped object.  I don't see what could possibly be bad about having that failsafe in place.


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#42 of 48 Old 02-03-2012, 05:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aus5 View Post



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!

 

 

 

 

We go to the beach several times a week year round, and read the "rip current" sign every time we go down there, look at whatever flag the lifeguard has up to show the conditions, watch the water before going in... but I wouldn't trust a child to know which way to swim, to be able to judge which direction the rip is going AND remember which way they need to go in comparison to that, all while being dragged along in the water, with a disoriented view of shore and by themselves?   And even kids that can swim quite well have a hard time floating on their backs in the waves. 

 

Can your 2/3yr olds swim?  As in strongly swim long distances with no adult help, know how to hold their breath for a period of time, know how to handle waves if they crash them down, and can swim without holding onto anything?     My 4.5yr old can, but he took infant survival swim classes.  He was evaluated at a year old by having him float on his back for almost 30min in full winter clothing, and he has been recertified every year sense.   He also swims almost every day.  Most kids I know who are his age are no where close to being able to do that.   And at 2yrs old, I 100% trusted ds to swim in a pool on his own while I just watched from the side, but not the ocean, the ocean is unpredictable, and for a toddler to anticipate what its doing AND concentrate on their swimming skills is a lot to ask. 

 

And its a different situation when you are talking a kid in the water with an adult, adult directly, physically in charge of that kids safety - thats the time you teach safety skills.   But if they are a non-swimmer or not a great swimmer and playing in the waves while mom watches from the beach towel?  They aren't learning the survival skills then, they are just playing, and an adult needs time to react if something happens, so thats when a lifejacket makes sense.  

 

And like I said, not for all kids, my ds I trust to handle the ocean, but I don't know any other kids under the age of 6 that I would.  My ds terrifies people with his ability to hold his breath and swim under waves for a long time, and in pools because of this lifeguards have gone in after him several times (each time he was embrarrased because he had no idea he was freaking them out by doing what he always does, its not normal for a kid to hold their breath that long, I can't even do it and I'm a strong swimmer!)

 

 

Ds knows how to cross a street properly, we've talked about it hundreds of times, and he can cross one safely most of the time, yet I always hold his hand going across busy roads with lots of cars.

 


 

 

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#43 of 48 Old 02-03-2012, 05:42 PM
 
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Young children and non-swimmers should, in my opinion, wear life jackets. And everyone should be supervised like a hawk, and attention paid to beach warnings (here there is a flag system that indicates if its safe to go in). A beach with waves and tide like that is NOT a good place to learn to swim, or for a beginner to practice. I also think an adult should always be in the water with the child. Sure, it looks odd, but the kid is safer with one on than without one.


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#44 of 48 Old 02-18-2012, 02:24 AM
 
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I'd congratulate this parent on choosing to have a life jacket on his child.

 

Personally, I think swimming lessons and very very closely supervised water play (arms reach at all times) are the only times when it should be removed.  I had a scary  experience in a swimming pool with my 4 yr old dd...she was in arms reach and on a flutter board.  I turned my head away for one second, and next thing you know she was under water.  I plucked her out right away (she was used to putting her head underwater and holding her breath, otherwise, I wouldn't have let her play on the flutter board in water that was just over her head).  Had I not been right next to her, I wouldn't have known where she was.  Would have been far worse in a lake or ocean setting.  I'm super vigilant usually....so this little slip up was a shocker, and reminded me how easily it can happen to even the most safety conscious among us.  I also think it's important for kids to learn how the water feels with or without a life jacket - and the supervision MUST be arms reach and constant visual contact.

 

The only concern I would have is, like any safety device, that it fits properly and is secured properly.  a life jacket that is too loose will ride up.  It must be snug with a crotch strap in order to ensure the child's head stays above water.

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#45 of 48 Old 05-28-2012, 10:36 PM
 
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I know this is an old thread, but I came across it while researching lifejackets for my kiddo (we're thinking of buying a boat).

 

I realize there are a lot of different opinions but I thought I'd share the CDC's take on it:

 

http://www.cdc.gov/safechild/drowning/

 

 

 

Quote:
Make life jackets a "must." Make sure kids wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim. Life jackets can be used in and around pools for weaker swimmers too.

 

I think it's silly to expect a very young child, even one who is a strong swimmer, to be able to keep a level head and swim across a rip tide or figure out which way was up if the child was accidentally swept out by a sneaker wave. Yes, there are some ocean situations where I might not make my child use a life jacket. I have been on calm/sheltered enough beaches in Hawaii that I think it would be OK. I know a family who lost a toddler to drowning when the parents were carrying the child across a river. The parent lost his footing and slipped and lost his grip on the child. There were four adults and one child present, and none of the adults were able to find the child who was sucked under the water. The child was found down river days later. A life jacket would have most likely saved the child. Supervision and even holding on to your child are not adequate substitutes for a PFD in all situations, just as wearing a PFD is no substitute for adequate supervision. BOTH need to be used in order to protect our children. Drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death for children between the ages of 1 and 4 (with car accidents coming in a close second). There is no such thing as too much caution (not to say there's no such thing as paranoia; keeping children away from water entirely is excessive and counter-productive).

 

Of course I'm not saying every child needs to wear a life jacket for every visit to the beach. Children are different, circumstances are different, beaches are different. But I would never ever second guess a parent who was being cautious and using a life jacket in a situation like that. Using a life jacket near open water does not mean the parent isn't also teaching the child to swim without one. And there is no doubt at all that a life jacket is safer than no life jacket. Yeah, it's harder to swim with a life jacket, but it's easier to find and stay at the surface and be rescued. Suggesting that it's somehow safer to be without the life jacket is like saying it's safer to not wear a seat belt and be thrown from the car. Sure there are a few freak accidents where seat belts cause injury or death, but statistically it's much more common that they save lives. Same thing with life jackets. 


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#46 of 48 Old 05-31-2012, 12:39 PM
 
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Wow. I am going to be the dissenter here, but there is no way I would put a life jacket on my kid for the beach. The ocean is dangerous. I want my kids to grow up knowing this without the false sense of security a life jacket gives. Basically, until my child is an excellent swimmer they go into the water with me within arms reach.

 

I grew up in Australia and it's totally unheard of to swim in a life jacket. 


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#47 of 48 Old 05-31-2012, 01:55 PM
 
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I am not sure I understand that argument at all. Surely you're not suggesting that parents who put life jackets on their kids for splashing in the water are failing to properly supervise their children and keep them within arm's reach. If you are, that's rather insulting to be honest. 

 

Using a life jacket near the water is no more instilling a false sense of security than using a helmet on a bicycle or a seat belt in a car. These are safety devices that we use because an activity is dangerous, and they help increase the chance that an accident can be survived without injury. As the story I wrote in my last post illustrates, having the child in arm's reach - or even in your arms - does not guarantee that the child won't drown. Neither does a life jacket, but it helps increase the odds of survival. If my child is knocked out of my arms by a wave or in a river, I want the child to bob back up to the top where I can find her right away, rather than calling divers to spend the next week looking for her body. 

 

Swimming in a life jacket is a totally different thing from using a life jacket while a child plays near the water or on a dock or a boat. Of course children should be taught to swim without a life jacket. But if you're playing on the beach with your child and splashing in the waves, and a sneaker wave comes up and sweeps you both out into the water, swimming alone may not save either of you. More likely than not, if the family I know had been using a life jacket for their toddler when they were playing in the river together, their child would be alive today. 


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#48 of 48 Old 06-04-2012, 01:20 PM
 
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We do the same because I think that in an emergency, they are safer that way. There is no way to closely watch three children all at once, most of the kids are fairly young and inexperienced swimmers,  and they tend to get knocked down in the waves. Most kids do not have swimming pools and frequent access to the water and there is summer learning curve for everyone.

 

In addition, we have the kids take swimming lessons, provide close supervision, talk about water safety and none of that does much in preventing a tragic accident. We have never told them that a life jacket will keep them safe and I don't think it will. But I do think it enhances the safety of the situation.

 

I don't understand your implication that they are somehow less safe?

 

We actually know a family (with terrific water skills and great parenting) who lost one of their children during wave play. Huge wage came, mom grabs the youngest, oldests surfaces okay but takes in a lot of water, dad is on beach and also watching and runs to the waves and by the time he gets there the middle she is under, cannot be immediately be found, and is dead when they find her. Mom had attended CPR class two weeks before.

 

And yeah, I love safety jackets. My uncle saw a boat capsize a few years and went in to rescue. Three children wearing life vests survivied. Neither parent was wearing a life vest and he was only able to save one of them. He is a big man but he couldn't rescue both people.

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