Swimming and flotation aids are used to help keep children afloat and gain confidence as they become familiar with being in water. Children can use them while learning to swim, including during formal swimming lessons.
Swimming and flotation aids come in several forms that children can wear, attach to their bodies or sit in. They include but are not limited to:
swimming aid vests.
Swimming and flotation aids are not safety devices. Children who cannot swim could drown if their swimming or flotation aid fails or if they do not use the aid properly.
Parents and carers should constantly watch children using these aids. As children are still developing, they generally have limited motor (brain to muscle) coordination and are not able to judge potentially dangerous situations or react to them in time.
The mandatory standard for swimming and flotation aids came into effect on 1 April 2010 and is the only mandatory standard for swimming and flotation aids. It covers labelling for swimming and flotation aids.
50 children aged up to 17 years old drowned in Australia from July 2008 to June 2009. Almost two-thirds were under 5 years old.
Around 32 children under 5 years old drown in Australia every year on average.
38 emergency department visits were recorded for injuries involving children’s flotation aids and aquatic toys between 2004 and 2008 in Victoria alone. Cases were most common for children up to 4 years old, followed by children between 10 and 14 years old.