On the Water Toys Safe or Unsafe


It is summer and it is hot, and the water is refreshing; it is time to break out the water toys or maybe even get some new ones.

Floating Mats, Water Trampoline, Inflatable Water Slide,  Pool Noodles, Inflatable Climbing Wall, Inflatable of a Favorite Animal, Towable Tubes, Inflatable Loungers, and arm floaties are all fun to use.   Even though they can help keep a baby, child and adult  afloat,  water toys are not a substitute for safety devices. Therefore, they should never be seen as a replacement for adult supervision or used without a lifejacket.

Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI) found aquatic toys to be especially dangerous. The toys were found to flip easily, putting children at risk of injury or drowning (especially if the children were ejected into deep water).

Some of the toys were so slippery, children fell into the water while attempting to climb them.   Other toys were so flimsy as to easily collapse under the weight of one child. Many inflatable toys water and mats can easily flip, sending a child into the water or trapping the child below the surface.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates for every child under age 18 who dies from drowning, another 7 receive emergency department care for nonfatal drowning.

Nearly 40% of drownings treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with 10% for all unintentional injuries).

Drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water, especially to unsupervised children. It happens in lakes and oceans, pools, bathtubs, and even buckets of water.

Life jackets can prevent drowning during water activities, especially boating and swimming. The U.S. Coast Guard reported 658 boating-related deaths in 2021—81% died by drowning, and 83% of these people were not wearing life jackets.

It is unfortunate, in 2022 and this year, we have had adults and children severely injured or died due to drowning, using water toys, and Lilly Pads.

So, What does a drowning look like?   The Red Cross offers this: 

Do you imagine drowning to be splashy and loud, with arms flailing and screams for help, as perhaps seen in a movie? If you thought you could hear if a loved one was drowning, you would be sorely mistaken. The reality is that someone could be drowning a few feet away from you and you wouldn’t know it – because drowning is often silent.




7 warning signs that someone is drowning:

1. Struggling to keep their face above the water in an effort to breathe – head is low in the water, tilted back, and mouth is at water level.
2. Has arms extended to the side pressing down for support.
3. Has a vertical or approaching vertical body position with no supportive kick, appear as if they are bobbing.
4. Might continue to struggle underwater, but isn’t making any headway, often facing the nearest point of safety, for example land, a person, shallow water, a buoyant support toy or a boat.
5. Eyes appear big, glassy and empty, unable to focus;
6. Inability to respond to the question: “Are you okay?”
7. Silence

When people are drowning, all of their energy is going into trying to breathe and staying above water,” says Shelley Dalke, Director, Swimming and Water Safety Programs for the Red Cross.

What precautions can be taken while enjoying our waterways, to make it safe for all ?

1.      Everyone wears a life jacket, adult, teen or child.

2.      Restrict the use of alcohol.

3.      Read and follow the manufacture recommendation user instruction.

4.      Follow Manufacture recommended maintenance and care instructions.

5.      Periodically, examine the Water Toy for defects, repair or discard, if necessary, do not use if it is in bad condition.

6.      Don’t use it in high boat traffic areas or use it in water where there may be underwater structures, trees and rocks.

7.      Be aware of individuals, do any of them exhibit 7 signs of drowning? 

8.      Do a head count.  Anyone missing?  Keep track of all.

The Lake of Ozarks  Water Safety Council want everyone to enjoy the waterways of Missouri. Please be safe.  So, you and your family can come back again.


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