Do’s and Don’ts of Pool Toys

When it comes to poolside recreation, nothing adds more joy than a variety of colorful and engaging pool toys. These pool toys can transform a simple swim into a fun-filled adventure, making them a favorite for children and adults alike. However, while toys can enhance the enjoyment and learning experiences in the water, they also present unique safety challenges. 

The Role of Pool Toys in Recreation and Learning

Pool toys come in various shapes and sizes, from inflatable animals and beach balls to diving rings and floating lounges. These toys can play a significant role in recreational swimming, encouraging children to be active, improve their swimming skills, and build confidence in the water. For example:

  • Inflatable Animals and Beach Balls: These toys can make water games more exciting and encourage group play, promoting social interaction and teamwork among children.
  • Diving Rings and Sticks: These are excellent for developing underwater swimming skills and breath control. They can make learning to swim more engaging and rewarding.
  • Floating Lounges: Perfect for relaxation, these can also make for a relaxing time in the water.

While toys can provide these benefits, it is crucial to remember that they are designed for fun and not for safety. This distinction brings us to the first and most important point: understanding what pool toys are and what they are not.

Pool Toys vs. Life-Saving Devices

Pool toys are not life-saving devices. This is a critical distinction that every pool owner, parent, and caregiver must understand. Pool toys are designed to provide entertainment, but they are not engineered to keep swimmers safe in the event of an emergency. Here’s a closer look at common pool toys and how they differ from safety devices:

  • Water Wings: Also known as floaties or arm bands, water wings are popular among young children. However, they can give a false sense of security. Water wings are not designed to keep a child’s head above water and can easily slip off or be deflated.
  • Inflatable Rafts and Rings: These can flip over easily. They should never be relied upon as a safety measure.
  • Noodles: These foam toys are great for games and floatation fun but are not a life saving device in case of a water emergency.

In contrast, USCG (United States Coast Guard) approved life jackets are specifically designed and tested to provide reliable buoyancy. When choosing a life jacket, look for the USCG approval label on the inside of the life jacket, which ensures that the device meets stringent safety standards. Life jacket sizes are also based on weight, so be sure that the right size is on the right child. Life jackets are one of the layers of protection to keep your family safer in and around the water. 

Do’s and Don’ts of Pool Toys

To make the most of your pool toys while maintaining a safe environment, follow these simple do’s and don’ts:


  1. Supervise at All Times: Always watch children when they are in or near water, even if they are using pool toys.
  2. Use Toys for Their Intended Purpose: Ensure that toys are used appropriately to avoid accidents.
  3. Regularly Inspect Toys: Check for leaks, tears, or other damage that could compromise safety.
  4. Educate Children: Teach children that pool toys are for fun and not for safety. Emphasize the importance of swimming skills and following pool rules.
  5. Store Toys Safely: When not in use, store pool toys away from the water to prevent children from being tempted to reach for them unsupervised.
  6. Learn the 5 Layer of Protection: Learn how to use the 5 layers of protection to help keep your family safer in and around water. 


  1. Rely on Toys for Safety: Never use pool toys as a substitute for life jackets or water competency.
  2. Leave Toys in the Pool When Not in Use: This can attract children to the water unsupervised, increasing the risk of a drowning incident.
  3. Allow Rough Play: Discourage pushing, shoving, or other rough behavior that could lead to accidents.
  4. Ignore Age and Weight Recommendations: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure toys are appropriate for the user’s age and weight.
  5. Forget to Have a Safety Plan: Always have a pool safety plan in place, including knowing CPR and having emergency contacts accessible. Check out the emergency preparation page to learn more. 

Toys are a wonderful addition to any swimming pool, providing endless fun and opportunities for learning. However, it is essential to recognize that these toys are not designed to save lives. By following the recommended do’s and don’ts, you can ensure that your pool remains a safer and enjoyable environment for everyone.

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