One of my must-have travel items is probably also one of the strangest things I travel with. It’s an inflatable life jacket for kids. You never know when you might need a life jacket for your kids. Protect your child and make sure you never end up in this situation by bringing one with you. An inflatable life jacket can compress down so small it’s easy to travel with.
As we’ve traveled around the world I’ve realized that sometimes you end up at a place that doesn’t provide a life vest. This was the case everywhere we went in Honduras. No one had a life jacket at any of the places we went, but it didn’t matter because we had our own. Anytime you are going to be around the water your kids need to be in a lifejacket.
This is the exact inflatable life jacket we travel with for our kids. It takes up almost no space at all in your suitcase. It’s easy to blow up and it’s held up well. I initially thought because it’s plastic that it would last long, but it is very durable. It also dries easily, because it’s plastic you can simply wipe it down with a towel.
How to Keep Your Kids Safe Around Water
- Only swim with children in designated swimming and recreational areas.
- Watch kids constantly when they are in or around water. Keep young children and inexperienced swimmers within arm’s reach of an adult. Make sure older children swim with a partner. My kids know that they are never allowed to swim alone.
- Teach your kids to swim. I put all of my kids in swim lessons no later than age four. Often a local community college offers super cheap swim lessons. There are also people that offer swim lessons in their backyards and these are typically low cost too.
- Use a life jacket while in and around water.
- Learn water rescue skills and CPR. It is important to know how to respond in an emergency without putting yourself at risk.
- Alarm the pool
- Floating (surface) pool alarm devices with remote alarms sounding in the home can alert you to a child falling into the pool. The pool surface, however, must be disturbed enough by the fall so as to set off the alarm. Since these alarms do work off a disturbance to the surface of the pool; your child could quietly walk down the steps, go under, drown, and never disturb the alarm or set it off! They are quite inexpensive and better than nothing at all since they do detect some accidental falls if adjusted and placed properly.
- Subsurface pool alarms detect disturbances beneath the surface. These are more reliable and less prone to false alarm than floating alarms, which are more easily set off by wind, rain, and light debris. There are a half dozen subsurface alarm models to choose from, varying in price, performance and capability. Choose one that at a minimum is compliant with the ASTM Standard on Pool Alarms, e.g., Pool Guard, AquaGuard.
Personal immersion alarms have sensors worn on the child, usually on the wrist. When the sensor gets wet, it sends a wireless signal to a remote base station, usually located in the house, which alarms loudly. Of all alarms, this design is the most versatile. Safety Turtle by Terrapin is the top choice for personal immersion alarms and is really the company that has made them available to the public for water safety use. The Safety Turtle consists of two main components: a lockable wristband worn by the child that resembles a wrist watch with a turtle on it, and a base station unit that remains within earshot of adult supervision. Safety Turtle offers continuous protection to the wearer and is never turned off for pool use or maintenance. It also protects against ALL water hazards, including buckets and ponds, and possibly adjacent neighbor(s)’ pool(s). The drawback to Safety Turtle is that it only protects the child(ren) wearing it. If a neighbor’s child gains access to the pool, the Safety Turtle will not help. Parents have to be vigilant about having the Turtle wristband on the child’s wrist at all times, yet take it off for bathing. Putting the Turtle on is simple, and if you can put pants on him every day (well, usually), then you can put the Turtle on, too.
- Get a pool fence. If you have a pool it should have a pool fence around it that can prevent a child from reaching the pool. These are required by law in some states, but not all.