Always supervise children in and around water, even when they're using inflatable water toys that help them stay afloat. Toys don't replace adult supervision.
New Zealanders love water activities — from splashing around in an inflatable paddling pool in the back yard to visits to swimming pools and the beach. Inflatable toys add to the fun, and swimming aids can help support a child in the water and help them learn to swim. Inflatable toys aren't designed to keep children safe in the water — you still need to supervise them, and think about whether the toy is suitable.
Water Safety NZ has advice on lifejackets and other water safety devices, and how to keep your kids safe around water.
Information on the safety requirements relating to swimming pools can be obtained from your local council.
Before you buy water toys
Think about whether the toy is suitable for the age of the child and the type of activity.
Look for water and flotation toys that comply with the requirements of the standards AS 1900 and AS/NZS8124. These standards set out requirements for construction and also the provision of warnings in relation to safe use.
Make sure you read and comply with all instructions provided with a water or flotation toy, and pay particular attention to the suitable age of use and any advice around where the item can safely be used.
How to use water toys safely
Close supervision is the key to helping ensure children have fun in the water safely. Teaching children to swim can also go a long way towards reducing the risk of accidents.
Make sure you also take care with the type of water or flotation toys children have access to, and with where and how they're used:
- Toys that might be appropriate for use in a paddling pool may well be totally inappropriate at the beach or a swimming hole at the river.
- A toy that is suitable for a 10 year old may not be safe for a 4 year old. It's therefore important to think about when and where the water toy will be used, and who is going to use it.