MILWAUKEE — As a parent, you know, all it takes is a second for a child to wander without you noticing. A trip to the pool can be stressful and with good reason -- drowning rates are the highest mainly for kids under age five.
With so many styles, sizes and colors, picking out the best life jacket for your child can be overwhelming.
“What's the biggest mistake you see with parents purchasing life jackets for kids?” Consumer Investigator Kristin Byrne asked Phillip Gurtler with the U.S. Coast Guard.
“The biggest thing is they go and buy the one they think is the prettiest, that's not the greatest to be seen if there's an emergency situation” said Gurtler.
Lieutenant Gurtler said look for brighter colors like blaze orange. It helps a kid stand out in the water. He also said parents need to buy the right size -- the manufacturer label will give you guidance on sizing.
Gurtler warned if the personal flotation device is too large, your child can slip out of it. Also, parents need to inspect the vest and look for jackets that are U.S. Coast Guard approved. There's an approval number on the jacket itself.
There are five types of personal floatation devices that meet U.S. Coast Guard approval.
“So it goes from type I being the safest all the way up to type V,” said Gurtler, who recommends parents buy a type I or type II life jacket. The type is also printed on the label inside the jacket.
“If they are unconscious, if they're not great swimmers, it's going to keep their head out of the water,” Gurtler explained about type I and II jackets.
As far as puddle jumpers, Gurtler explained while approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, they might not perform they way you think they would.
“The puddle jumper is classified as a type III, so if your child is in the water with one and they actually get turned over, it will not right them,” Gurtler continued.
Goldfish Swim School in Brookfield reminds parents, even with a life jacket on, everyone needs to have a designated water watcher. That means putting away your cell phone when your kids are in a pool or lake.