coming back alive
Only a Few Unsupervised Moments

"I left her alone for only two minutes while I ran into the house to answer the phone. No screams, no splashes. When I went back to the backyard, she was gone. The only thing I could see was something at the bottom of the pool. I screamed. It was too late".

A study by the Canadian Red Cross determined that infants and toddlers aged 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates in Canada. Of these drownings, over 50% of the victims were under supervision.

Now There's Only Half

Twins are often seen as two halves of one whole, completing one another’s sentences and sharing one another’s thoughts. This is why, when one twin dies, the pain felt by those left behind is all the more acute, the gaping hole left by their absence more difficult to heal.

Tyler Hackett, an 11-year-old boy drowned in a boating accident on Mother's Day in 1998. His family, including his twin brother Justin, was left to try and ponder his untimely passing. "They'll never recover," said Roger Hackett, Tyler's uncle. "There is no greater loss. This is such a very special family. Tyler was a twin, and together the two made a whole. Now there's only half."

Tyler's grade school principal remembers the promising young student. "Tyler put his personal best into everything. That's just the type of student he was. He was a gentleman, very caring, and he had such joy for life."

The tragedy that claimed Tyler's life took place when he, Justin, and two classmates were sitting on a swimming platform attached to the back of the family's ski boat. "They were stopped and just enjoying the water," Roger Hackett said. "But a wake hit the boat and filled his mouth with water, which took him down."

Officers investigating the accident said fumes from the boat's engine might also have caused Tyler to become asphyxiated and slip into the water. Very few people consider the dangers of sitting so close to an engine leaking gas.

Tyler was not wearing a life preserver, although the law of Arizona, where the accident occurred, requires children under 12 to wear a life jacket while in a boat. When he slipped into the water, dizzied by the fumes, he was unable to recover, sinking to the bottom like a stone. 

You wouldn't let your child sit in the car without wearing a seatbelt. Why let them swim without a PFD or lifejacket?
Stuff You Should Know

What Is a Personal Flotation Device?

A personal flotation device is a Coast Guard approved life jacket that helps you or your child float and stay warm in the water.

Why Should Your Child Wear a PFD?

Drowning is often silent, takes as little as five minutes and usually happens when an adult is nearby. No one can watch a child every second.

When should my child wear a PFD?

Children between birth and five years: on beaches, docks and in boats. Children between the ages of 6-11: on docks, boats, inner tubes and riverbanks. Teens and adults: on boats or inner tubes.

pfd is too big
Make sure your child's PFD fits properly. Pick them up by the shoulders to see if they slip out. An oversized PFD is as dangerous as not wearing one at all.


bring in drowned child
You wouldn't let your child sit in the car without wearing a seatbelt. Why let them swim without a lifejacket?
Even in Shallow Water

For most 12- year-old boys, a week at camp is a chance to get away from the everyday, and enjoy some sun, sports and good friends. For Richard Wilder, it was anything but.  

The 12-year-old from Milwaukee was participating in a sunken-canoe race in water that was only two to four feet deep. Although he had been classified as a non-swimmer by the camp only days before, Richard was allowed to participate in this race without wearing a life jacket. This would prove to be a fatal decision on the part of the camp, as Richard sank with the submerged canoe, and remained under water for about 10 minutes before being pulled out.

None of the other youths in the canoe were wearing life jackets, but two were able to swim safely to shore, and one was assisted to shore by camp staff. When staff reached Richard however, it was too late. Although resuscitation was attempted, he was pronounced dead only hours later.  

The details surrounding Richard's tragic death are confusing to his family members, who question why the non-swimmer was without a life jacket. Says a relative of Richard's, “A (life) jacket would've saved his life, I know it.''
What do I look for when I buy my PFD?
  • Coast Guard approved label.

  • A snug fit. Check weight and size on the label and try the PFD on your child. Pick up your child by the shoulders of the PFD; the child's chin and ears won't slip through a proper fit.

  • Head support for younger children. A well designed PFD will support the child's head when the child is in the water.

  • A strap between the legs for younger children. This is a good feature because it helps prevent the vest from coming off.

  • Comfort and appearance. This is especially important for teens, who are less likely to wear a PFD.
Key steps to using your PFD
  • Never alter a PFD. It could lose its effectiveness.

  • The best way to get your child to wear a PFD, is to wear one yourself!

  • Never use toys like plastic rings or water wings in place of a PFD.

  • Have your child practice wearing a lifejacket- this will help prevent panic and rolling over.