Keep On Floatin' On
WHY YOUR FAMILY NEEDS FLOATATION DEVICES
Even if you’re a world-class swimmer, if you live in an area prone to thunderstorms, tsunamis, hurricanes, or floods, you'll need ways to stay afloat in an emergency. At the end of the day, humans are not jellyfish with the ability to swim long distances. We’re terrestrial creatures with the ability to take long walks on the beach.
To put it more bluntly, when disasters strike, drowning is a very real threat to us. Way too many people lose a loved one from drowning each year. The numbers are quite shocking, but let’s take a look so that we can rise above this risk with knowledge:
- Floods: According to the World Health Organization, drowning accounts for 75% of lost lives in all flood disasters.
- Flash Floods: According to the Drowning Support Network, 70% of all flash flood fatalities occur when people drive their vehicles into flood waters.
- Hurricanes: According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), drownings due to storm surge, rainfall flooding, high surf, and accidents just offshore account for 88% of all deaths in the US from hurricanes, tropical storms, or tropical depressions from 1963 to 2012.
- Tsunamis: Most lost lives during a tsunami are unfortunately a result of drowning too. During the 2011 tsunami in Japan, 90% of deaths were attributed to drowning.
So that’s a very strong dose of reality for ya.
Now, what can we do about it? Because we don't want you to just stay safe and survive, we want you to thrive. We want you to be happy. Part of that is literally floating above the problems disasters often throw at you.
These three flotation devices will certainly help...
1. Life Jacket
Did you know that life jackets originally started off in 1805 as wooden blocks sewn onto cotton jerseys? Sounds comfy. Luckily, we’ve come a long way since then, and now you can strut your stuff with stylish and lightweight life jackets all in the name of safety.
There’s a lot out there, so here are 5 things to keep in mind:
- Type: We recommend Type I PFDs. Geared specifically for rough or remote waters, these provide the most buoyancy and are specifically designed to turn even the most unconscious person face up in the water.
- Stamp of approval: Make sure that it is U.S Coast-Guard approved. You will know this by looking for the USCG stamp. No stamp? No buy.
- Size: Each family member needs a life jacket fit specifically for them, because wearing a life jacket the wrong size is dangerous. To find the best fit, zip/buckle your life jacket, raise your arms over your head, and have someone gently pull up on the tops of the arm openings. If the jacket rides up over your chin, it’s too big! If it’s too small, it will feel tight and the buckles probably won’t fasten.
- Condition: We want those things floating perfectly! Make sure that you periodically check your life jackets to make sure that there are no rips, tears, or holes.
- Practice: Sure it’s good to have your life jacket nicely packaged and stored ready-to-go, but it's equally as important to use it while pretending it’s an actual emergency. Make it a fun activity with your kids! Try them on with different types of clothes and layers, and if you have a pool, take your life jacket for a spin to make sure it doesn’t fall off.
2. Rapid Raft
POP QUIZ: What do ants and humans have in common when it comes to floods?
They use rafts to stay safe. Well, sort of. Ants actually build rafts out of their own bodies, and humans use super fancy emergency rapid rafts.
Rapid rafts can get a little pricey. However, just keep in mind things like this are an investment not only in safety, but also in recreational fun (especially if you live near water but don’t have a boat). Rafts can bring you good times with family year round, and, if a hurricane or flood decides to say hello and water levels rise, you'll have something that helps you float away from danger. Plus, did you know that rafts can be used as an emergency shelter or sleeping pad as well?
Again, there’s a lot out there, so here are 5 things to keep in mind:
- Size: When deflated, it should be small enough to fit in your home, but, when inflated, large enough to fit more than one person.
- Hard bottom: Flood waters are full of debris. You want to make sure that the bottom is strong enough to withstand any sharp items that can lead to tears or holes.
- Weight: Make sure that the raft is able to carry not only the weight of yourself, but also the additional weight of any emergency supplies and other family members.
- Inflatability: The best rafts are those that you can inflate in seconds without the need of inflation pumps or tools. Remember, during emergency situations, every second counts. As such, you want a raft that can also deflate just as quickly.
- Portable: No one wants a bulky raft sitting in their garage. Look for those that are portable, ultra-small, and ultra-lightweight.
3. Utility Cushion
A little cushion never hurt anybody. Utility cushions are US Coast Guard-approved Type IV devices that are designed to be thrown into the water as extra flotation during an emergency until rescue crews arrive. Unlike a life jacket, which keeps you afloat at all times without effort, a utility cushion requires a person to be both conscious and strong enough to hold onto it. Something is always better than nothing.
We recommend having these cushions as an add-on, but not a replacement, for your family flotation arsenal. Plus, they are cheap and small enough to store in multiple places, including your home, your car, and your emergency supply kits. They’re also great pillows in a pinch!
No matter what: don’t worry, be ready, and keep on floatin’ on.