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Drowning is a major cause of disability and death, particularly in children. In the United States, an average of 11 children die every day from drowning. For every child who dies from drowning, another seven receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries. At least one third of survivors sustain moderate-to-severe neurologic disabilities. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that children age 1-3 represent 67% of reported fatalities and 66% of reported injuries in pools and spas.  . It generally takes four to six minutes for irreversible brain damage to occur.  • Children under the age of 5 are at the highest risk for drowning. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children in this age group. • For children ages 5-14, drowning is the second leading cause of death years of age, behind motor vehicle crashes. • African American children are at a higher risk of drowning than their white peers. In 2019, the drowning death rate per 100,000 population was 3.3 for white children, compared with 5.5 for African American children. • More males than females die from drowning. In 2019, males accounted for 80% of drowning deaths among children under the age of 15. • The risk of drowning is higher in natural bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, compared to swimming pools.  Children in or near water must be supervised at all times. It’s wrong to assume that someone else is supervising children who are in or near water, no matter how shallow. This includes even if there is is lifeguard on duty or a group of family members present. A designated “watcher” should be determined and the responsibility shared. An adult should always be in the pool with the young child. Children should wear a brightly colored bathing suit so they can easily be recognized.


The toddler swim vest (aka puddle jumper)….the flotation device moms love. They are cute. They look fun and inviting and they give our kids independence in the water…..we think they keep our kids safe….but do they?
I learned after my beautiful baby boy drowned that this device was a major factor in his accident. 
This is why…
This post is extremely hard for me. I was that mom who put my beautiful 3 year old baby boy in one of these devices. The packaging told me it would help him stay safe. Other moms told me it would help him stay safe. All I wanted to do was keep him safe. That’s it. That was my sole reason for buying and using this device. 
1) Toddler swim vests automatically put children in a vertical position in the water… and that is the drowning position. Toddler swim vests teach children muscle memory for that position so that when they get in water, they will automatically go vertical, whether they have the device on or not. This makes drowning faster!!!
2) Toddler swim vests teach children to bicycle their arms and legs in order to propel through the water. This expends huge amounts of energy and contributes significantly to drowning incidents because it cannot be sustained for very long.
3) Toddler swim vests prevent kids from learning to reach their arms out in front of them for any swimming stroke and from putting their heads in the water to help get into a horizontal (swimming and breathing position) in the water. 
4) Toddler swim vests contribute to water phobia because they don’t allow water on the face and therefore don’t allow children to become used to the water being on their faces. If the water does hit their face in an emergency situation, the child is more likely to panic and freeze and then not be able to help themselves.
5) Toddler swim vests create a false sense of safety for the child. The child thinks they can swim because they have built confidence in the water with the device, using it during swim times. They don’t know how their own bodies react in the water without a flotation device on and then they don’t make the connection that the device is what keeps them floating and not themselves. So, when the opportunity arises for them to get into water (even when they aren’t supposed to be in it), they are much more likely to do so without the device, thinking they can swim on their own, when they really can’t. 
6) Toddler swim vests create a false sense of safety for adults. Adults tend to not be as vigilant around the water when they put their kids in these devices. So, as an example, during a break when a parent might be attending to another child, their little one may have their swim vest off temporarily and because the parent has trained themselves not to have to be as vigilant, they have a lapse in supervision for a few seconds. In that time, the little one can end up in the pool without the device that holds them up in the water and can drown! It only takes 20 seconds!!!
7) Toddler swim vests are coast guard approved but at the lowest level possible-below life buoys. They are not reliable as a safety measure in any water that is not completely calm. They are marketed as a swim aid. But flotation devices of any kind should never be used as a swim aid because of reasons number  1-6 above. Children should learn survival swim and have one on one touch supervision (a parent or adult never being outside of an arm’s reach of a non-swimmer) in and around the water instead. 
My son thought he could swim, because I put this device on him during swim times and he learned and adopted the 6 points above. He went to the water without his toddler swim vest…he drowned…he died. He was only gone from my sight for a minute or two. 
It only takes 20 seconds. 
Why not toddler swim vests? Because your child’s life is not worth the risk that using these devices can and do pose.



Supervision around water isn’t enough. The human senses take in around 11 million bits of information per second, and send it all to the brain for processing. The brain can only process about 40 bits of that data per second.  Only 40. We, as humans, ARE going to have lapses in supervision, because we are at all times attending to many, many pieces of data.  That’s why we need to have layers of protection.
1. Effective supervision: Get into the pool with your child, even if they have a flotation device.  If a child is ever missing, check the water first.
2.  Segmented supervision: Designate a "Water Watcher: who is responsible for keeping their eyes on all children who are in the water.  Make sure everyone knows who is on duty.  70% of kids who drown do so with BOTH parents watching.
3.  Pool fence: Ensure your pool has a four-sided fence at least five feet tall with a self-locking gate.  Make sure the fence is at least 3-5 feet from the pool deck.  Remove all furniture that could be used to climb over the fence.
4. Window and door alarms: Make sure all windows and doors leading to the pool are locked and alarmed at all times.  Remember, doggie doors can lead to unintended access to your pool. 
5. Pool alarm: Make usre you ahve a warning system installed to alert you if anyone goes into the water. 
6. Swim lessons: This training will save lives in case they get past our supervision and barriers.
7.  And we need to learn and practice CPR, so that if the unthinkable happens, we can give a child a fighting chance for survival. EVEN A CHILD THAT HAS HAD SWIM LESSONS IS NOT DROWN-PROOF.


1.  For children under 1 year:  Make water fun.  Keep it warm: between 85-90*.  Do not let them spend too much time in the water at once.  No more than 20 minutes at a time.  Babies lose temperature 4 times faster than adults.  Do not take kids this age under water unless you are properly trained to do so.
2. For toddlers12 months to 30 months old: This age can learn but it requires daily lessons for several months to develop reliability in swimming.  Due to my short swim season and hospital work schedule, I do not offer these lessons.  Have fun with them.  Let them kick with a kickboard and go under water.  
3.  30+ months: These kids have the ability to learn to swim independently in a week or two depending on the age and exposure.  Please ask me about expectations for children on the younger side of this age group.  Children who have worn the swim vests (puddle jumpers) will take longer to teach just because their muscle memory is already is the opposite of what it needs to be to swim effectively.  In addition, if you put your child in a puddle jumper after swim lessons are over, they will quickly revert back to their old muscle memory.  So it is a good to lose the swim vest all together.

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