Life vests are such a simple invention, but too few hotels and resorts with pools offer them to guests. These are bulky items that are inconvenient for parents to pack, so they leave them at home, which opens everyone up to a greater risk of drowning.
Hotels and resorts who want families to visit their location need to step up and start offering this simple amenity.
As a mother with two small boys who have no fear when it
comes to the water, I implore you to offer free life vests to every child who
visits the pool at your establishment. Yes, I will always be on hand watching
my boys. But even a moment's distraction can make the difference between life
and death for a child. Parents aren't perfect, but the easiest way to prevent drowning
is to stick any kids near the pool in a life vest, especially if I am not in the
pool with them, and they are not strong swimmers.
Vests are cheaper than extra staff and will give everyone peace of mind.
Drowning is a very real and very scary prospect for parents.
According to the CDC,
"Every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are
children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of
unintentional injury death in the United States. ... For every child who dies from
drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal
If the cost of a few life vests at the pool, which can be
signed out to a guest's room or just given freely, means that the children at
your establishment will stay safe. I think it is worth the money. I'm sure your
property insurance company will be all for this cheap amenity too, but you would
be surprised by how few family-friendly resorts do have life vests available
Looking to diffuse the costs of this "luxury" amenity?
Partner with a life vest company so you can brand the vests with your logo.
Don't go for the cheap vests either. For under $30, you can get a vest that will
protect children, fit them well and not cause their heads to tip forward into
the water. Sell the branded vests in your gift shops so parents can take them
home. Pick a fun color that works for both boys and girls, so you don't have to
have a pink and a blue one (tropical greens and blues work very well).
Life vests are especially important if you do not have a
lifeguard on staff. Vests are cheaper than extra staff and will give everyone
peace of mind. As we all know, parents get distracted on vacation. They may
think their children are fine or their toddler will stick to the steps while
they order appetizers, but kids will also thwart their parents' best efforts.
If you do have life vests, make sure you educate your entire
staff about where they are. I was once visiting a very high-end beach resort, and I asked the concierge, activities organizers and even the general manager
of the hotel if they had life vests for the kids. No one had a clue. This is
a safety tool that cannot only protect your guests, but also shows your guests
that you care about their safety, not just their dollars.
If the child has a life vest on, she may have more time for you to get to her. If she doesn't have a life vest on, the child might only have a matter of seconds to be rescued.
Signs of drowning
Possibly the highest hurdles parents face when it comes to
drowning is that they don't know what it looks like. Hollywood has inundated us
with dramatic images of drowning victims shouting for help, when, in reality,
drowning is a silent killer. Mario
Vittone wrote an excellent article a few years back
highlighting the signs of drowning.
Head low in the water, mouth at water level
Head tilted back with mouth open
Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
Hair over forehead or eyes
Not using legs—vertical
Hyperventilating or gasping
Trying to swim in a particular direction but
not making headway
Trying to roll over on the back
Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder
The biggest thing to remember is that just because someone
looks OK doesn't mean they are OK. Drowning doesn't look like it does in the
movies: it is much more quiet and passive. If parents notice that their children
are quiet in a pool or staff sees a calm child in a pool, which just isn't
normal behavior for most kids, something is wrong. Find out what it is.
child has a life vest on, she may have more time for you to get to her. If
she doesn't have a life vest on, the child might only have a matter of seconds
to be rescued.
Life vests make a difference to parents, children and the
places they are staying. If parents are assured of their children's safety, they
will have a better time and are more likely to make a return trip to your
property. By showing you care about safety, make it a priority and don't force
parents to have to pack bulky vests that take up more than half of their
suitcases. Doing so guarantees a much better experience overall for families.
So I implore you, find the money to get life vests at your
pool. Advertise that you have them. Add them to the amenities list. Send emails
out to booked families who are traveling to you soon, so they know it is one
less thing they have to pack.