As a parent, you want your child to enjoy the beach safely. So on your way to the sand and sea, you stop at the convenience shop and buy a set of floaties. After all, they will help keep your young one safe in the ocean, right?
This is a must-read for any parent considering using floaties in Phuket’s ocean waters.
‘Floatie’ is a slang term for buoyancy aids, also called personal (PFD) or supplemental (SFD) flotation devices. They are usually pneumatic (filled with air) and are normally worn around the upper arms, torso or neck. In general, these devices are toys and are not durable or reliable enough for ocean use. These devices will not naturally turn an unconscious victim face-up in the water and allow them to breathe.
A Type II flotation vest is a pneumatic or flexible material vest worn around the torso (aka life vest), such as those found on commercial aircraft. They are designed to turn an unconscious victim face-up most of the time in calm to moderate sea conditions. They are lighter and less bulky than a Type I flotation vest.
A Type I life jacket is a full, sleeveless jacket that is designed to turn an unconscious victim face-up nearly all of the time, even in severe sea conditions. They usually have a sewn-in neck flap and are found on commercial vessels and naval craft. In the fatal Phoenix sinking last year where 47 tourists died in rough ocean conditions, this is the only type of life jacket that could have saved more lives.
Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury death in children, not only in Phuket but worldwide. Drowning remains the number one killer of Thai children under 14. In Australia, it is the leading cause of unintentional injury death in children under three. Worldwide, it is the third-highest cause of unintentional injury death in all age groups.
In the early days of surfing, before ankle ropes, board riders who wiped out had to bodysurf and swim to retrieve their board. Basic swimming skills are essential for everyone in the water, under all circumstances.
Before you enter the water, make sure your kids, and you yourself as their responsible party, have the necessary swimming skills to cope with local ocean conditions without floaties. Keep close to them at all times while in the water.
And enjoy your family time safely at Phuket’s magnificent beaches.
Daren Jenner is a the Thailand Section Chief at the International Surf Lifesaving Association. islasurf.org Phone: 081 747 7733 and +171 4465 4200
Feature extract from The Phuket News