Floaties: Summer Pool Safety Craft for Small Kids

More and more people are adding a pool to their backyard, and why not? Nice cool water, relaxation, gorgeous tan, but, when it comes to pools and children, there’s that ever-present danger of drowning. No matter how careful people are, hundreds of kids still drown every year in pools.

One way to protect really small children is to make “arm floaties”. You know, the plastic blow-up things that go around the kids’ upper arms to help keep them afloat? The floaties work really well to keep children’s faces above water in any pool. They’re very inexpensive to buy but nearly free to make, if you happen to have the supplies already.

Bubble wrap makes great arm floaties because the bubbles are full of air – just what you need to stay afloat. There are different types of bubble wrap; some has tiny bubbles on a thick plastic, some has giant bubbles on thinner plastic, but all bubble wrap floats. The bubble wrap most suited for this project is the type with the large bubbles, about the size of lollipop.

Many people have bubble wrap on hand after having ordered a package, but if you don’t have any, you can purchase it at department stores and delivery service businesses. If you have the bubble wrap already at home, though, you can make the arm floaties for pennies.

Measure the child’s arm to get the most accurate fit. Add a couple of inches for overlapping while putting the floatie together. Cut the length of plastic, then cut it to the width of about five inches. Wrap the plastic around the child’s arm and have him or her hold it in place. If the child is too young, have someone else hold the ends in place.

Use tape, which sticks well to plastic, to attach the ends together. Tape that won’t work well includes Scotch tape, some medical tape, or masking tape. Tapes that work well are duct tape and some electrical tape. Tape comes in many brilliant colors now, so your arm floatie won’t just be held together by a piece of gray duct tape.

Tape the ends together by allowing a strip of tape to grab the first end, then pulling it over to stick on the opposite end, letting them overlap. Once the tape has been placed on the plastic, do not try to remove it or adjust it. It will tear or puncture the bubbles.

If you wrap the plastic around the child’s arm and you see that it’s cut too large, simply trim it down before taping it, rather than trying to overlap giant bubble sections. Try to get the best fit possible, the first time around, or you’ll end up starting the project all over again.

As with store-bought arm floaties, they are difficult to slide on and off. They are much more cooperative, though, if you wet not only the floatie but the arm as well. To scoot the floatie onto the arm, have the child push his arm into the hole while you work it up the arm by tugging slightly at first one side, then the other.

The bubble wrap also makes great inner tube-like floats. Roll the wrap like a jelly roll, cut a section that’s slightly larger than the child’s midsection, then tape together. The child can hold onto the float while playing in the pool. Never count on just floats to protect your children. Keep a good eye on them the entire time they’re in the water.

Have a wonderful time this year, lounging by the pool and taking in the rays, but be extra careful when it comes to your children and make sure they have their floaties on!

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