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  • Heather Murray

Parents Preventing Childhood Drowning Presents: Sunday Survival Stories: Puddle Jumpers

Every Sunday, we will share a story of a non-fatal drowning, discuss where things went wrong, and give some pointers on how to prevent it from happening to the people you love. Thankfully, these stories have happy endings for those involved, but sadly, we lose too many people to drowning every year. We hope examining these real-life stories help put the dangers of water into perspective and help you introduce various principles of water safety to your family!

Today, 5 year old twins Elsa and Emma are playing cheerfully at home, but July 4th could have put an end to that. While others around the world were celebrating the holiday, Elsa was fighting for her life after a near drowning at a relative’s home pool.

If you are active in following Parents Preventing Childhood Drowning, or any source of water safety for that matter, you have probably seen many discussions about puddle jumpers. The message is usually the same- Don’t use them. However, it seems like the public gravitates towards these devices, seeing them as a safety measure to help their kids. This is why this story is so important. Not using a puddle jumper could have prevented this drowning.

So what is the problem with puddle jumpers? For one thing, they teach children to stay in a vertical upright position. Is this how you swim? No! This is better known as the drowning position; swimming usually occurs horizontally. They also provide a false sense of security, for parents and children. Parents are more likely to let their guards down when a child is wearing a puddle jumper versus when a parent is actively swimming in the pool with their child using touch supervision. Children believe that they can swim, even though they are only staying above water with the help of the device instead of their own abilities. Many drownings occur when puddle jumpers come off and children confidently jump back into the pool, believing they can swim. Puddle jumpers are only approved for use under certain conditions- such as boating. Just like lifejackets, you must make sure to put in the time to research what type of device is appropriate for the water activity you are participating in.

Use touch supervision to swim with your children and a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for your swim activity. Have fun, be safe, and say no to puddle jumpers!

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