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Arm floaties or life vest? We put them to a safety test

6:30 PM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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WESTLAKE -- Drowning is the second leading cause of death for kids between the ages of 1 and 14, according to the CDC.

That's why a lot of parents buy personal floatation devices for the pool.

But the question is, are you getting the right one? We put them to the test.

"You see everything. You have to see everything. You have to scan back and forth," says Westlake's Peterson Pool Lifeguard Matt Stroh.

Lifeguards like Stroh keep both eyes on hundreds of kids, because, in an instant, one kid could slip into a dangerous situation.

He and lifeguard trainer Karen Fugate say a lot of parents get a false sense of security with floatation devices. Keep in mind, any kid who needs one probably isn't the strongest swimmer and needs more supervision.

With the help of 2-year-old Dylan, we put some of the most popular styles to the test.

First, the ever popular "arm floaties." They did the worst at keeping his mouth above the water line.

Next, the swimming vest with the shark fin on the back. While trying to swim on his own, Dylan couldn't get control and the vest didn't help him float. It wouldn't prevent a drowning.

Then we tried a Coast Guard-approved vest/arm floatie combination. This one helped little Dylan swim on his stomach without getting his mouth underwater.

The even higher ranked Coast Guard-approved life vest kept Dylan above water, but immediately flipped him from his front to his back.

Still, the best drowning prevention is mom or dad.

"Lifeguards are here, but they're watching everybody, not just your child. So you need to make sure you're watching along with them," says Fugate.

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