Should Milford Beaches Allow 'Swimmies'?

Milford Recreation explains the policy prohibiting "swimmies" and other floatation devices.


On Sunday morning, Rob Whelan posed a question on the Milford Patch Facebook page:

Question: why do they not allow any type of "floaties" including swimmies at Milford beaches? Thanks!

Whelan added that his daughter had to take her swimmies off in Sunday. "The lifeguard walked over and asked," wrote.

In an email,  Recreation Supervisor Bill Garfield explained the policy:

The prohibition on children’s floaties and inflatables is designed to enhance the safety of swimmers by ensuring the lifeguards have clear sight lines, by reducing the opportunities for swimmers to get into distress, and to encourage parents to provided better supervision of their child in the water.

Children’s “swimmies” can help children experience freedom in the water (under the direct supervision of a parent or instructor) and help non-swimmers overcome the fear of the water. However, when used at the beach they provided a false sense of security to both the child and the parent.  This can led to over-confidence, where the swimmer ventures out into deeper water and gets into trouble.   Lifeguards can become distracted by children using “swimmies” and end up focusing on those with floatation aids and not on the entire population in the water.

Rafts and other inflatables have been known to develop leaks leaving non-swimmers in distress; children can easily fall off rafts, tubes, etc., as a result waves or winds leaving them in jeopardy; users of these items can also drift in deep water or tire while trying to retrieve the item from deep water.  Most importantly these items obstruct the lifeguard’s view of the water and as mentioned earlier cause them to focus on these swimmers and not on the entire population in the water.

What do you think? Should the lifeguards have clear sight lines of all those swimming at the beach? or should floaties and floatation devices be allowed?

RONALD M GOLDWYN July 28, 2012 at 06:13 AM
PARENTS, Lifeguards are on duty to assist you in guarding your children and NOT to replace you. Don't ever, not even for a second give up your responsibility of watching all your children.. You will NEVER forgive yourself if a tragedy occurred and you were not on duty. As for Floaties and their like, they are to be used only under your direct supervision unless you can be assured that your child would be safe if they were deflated. These are an accident awaiting to happen unless an adult is DIRECTLY watching. The summer before I learned to swim, I almost drowned in a pool surounded by 8 - 12 guards. They could not distinguish between a kid going down for the second time and a kid just playing in a pool full playful kids. I was lucky a swimmer accidentally pushed me to the pools edge and I hand over hand pulled myself along the gutter until I reached a ladder. All this occurred while a guard was within 6' of me with a 10 foot bamboo pole in his hand. I was about 8 years old at the time. My son learned to swim at age 5 while his younger sister passed her deep water swimming test at age 2. For me it was a priority that they learned to swim.
Lisa D July 30, 2012 at 01:10 PM
I think people are missing the point and have gone off in all different directions here. The original issue was should floaties be allowed at the beach. I think the poll response speaks for itself. I don't ever recall reading in here that parents who thought the floaties be allowed would then just sit back in their chairs and expect the lifeguards to have the sole responsibility of watching their children. As a parent, I wouldn't mind having the floaties be allowed, but you can be absolutely certain that I would be with my child watching them like a hawk as I am well aware that all it takes are mere seconds for something to happen and a drowning occur. Just as Stew Leonard Jr. if you do not agree. His son lost his life in a drowning accident when he wasn't being watched for 30 seconds. That's all it takes. By the same token, people are concerned with the lifeguards congregating in one area and the appearance it MAY give that they are perhaps unable to see the whole beach from there. People need to remember, PERCEPTION IS REALITY. Does not make it fair, but that is the truth of the matter. No one was insulting the lifeguards who are diligently doing their jobs at all. They were just raising a question/concern. I think the discussions on this board has showed good points on both sides of the isle.
RONALD M GOLDWYN July 30, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Lisa, Using the current poll's numbers, this community is divided down the middle in regard to the use of Floaties. The beach rules at the present state NO FLOATIES. So it is those parents who would like their children to wear Floaties who want the rules changed. It is these parents who are willing to put the lives of their children at risk, and if the rules are ever changed that will allow the use on public beaches, I strongly suggest that the parents or guardians be made to sign a notarized statement holding the city harmless should a child drown while at a city beach while aware of the dangers. I guess we can lead a horse to water, but we can't make them drink. My taxes should not rise because of these stupid parents. Let these kids swim in private backyard pools, where the sole responsibility will be the parents.
Lisa D July 30, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Spoken as a true attorney. Again, do not personally know any parents that would allow their young children to go unattended into the water simply because they are wearing floaties Moot point as the City will not change their position and nor was this something that was being pushed. It was simply a poll put on the Milford Patch that sparked a healthy, and unfortnately somewhat personally nasty, debate.
RONALD M GOLDWYN July 30, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Lisa, I truly hope that parents who put Floatie's on their children do so as added protection. But with so many non-inflatable swimming aids available, it is hoped that these postings will have educated Patch readers to the potential danger and why in the wisdom of our authorities they were banned in the first place. But half the folk taking the poll say Floaties pose no danger. We make laws and rule to protect the stupid. Such as seat belts, helmets, cell phone texting and Floaties. As previously mentioned, on my former boat ALL guests aboard had to wear a USCG approved PFD. I provided every adult with an inflatable type (my wife and I wore inflatable harness vests) If darkness came then I supplied everyone with a harness and safety leash so that all were attached to the boat while aboard. This was strictly enforced even if they were US Navy SEALS. On my boat I was responsibile for their lives as well as a happy time aboard.


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