Is banning floatation devices more safe?


At Scales Lake Park in Boonville, the lifeguards are always on watch, and are quick to blow the whistle if any of the lake’s rules are broken.

“That’s why we’re here, to make sure that they stay safe,” said lifeguard Christina Maple.


But some parents think one rule in particular doesn’t accomplish its intended purpose: no floatation devices allowed.

I was just really surprised,” Brittni Thomas said.You know, to put a child in any type of water whatsoever, that cannot swim without a, you know, lifesaving device, I just feel it’s very unsafe.”

When it comes to why the lake doesn’t allow floatation devices of any kind, including life jackets, there are a few reasons.

“We’ve put that in place because it can obstruct our view from seeing the kids, and we’ve had issues before of not being able to see them, have them drift away, think they can go farther and getting stuck,” Maple said. “We’ve had parents question, because other places do allow it, but we just the best experience, we had the best outcomes without having floatation devices.”

The Warrick County Parks and Recreation President says the main reason for the rule is that parents tend to pay less attention when their kids are using the devices, putting more stress on the lifeguard.

As to whether the rule actually is more safe, opinions are mixed.

“As long as there’s people certified to watch over the kids, I don’t have a problem with it. I understand with the liability and all that,” Doug Schwartz said.

 “They just have to enforce the rules give, and so, I was like, do what? I was very on edge. I was, you know, very adamant about them staying within arms length of me,” Thomas said.


The Parks and Rec board says with the rule in place, the track record for safety has been good, but for some families on the fence about coming back, the rule is a deal breaker.

“As long as that rule is in effect, I doubt it, just because of the fact that I just don’t feel, I just don’t feel safe,” Thomas said.

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(This story was originally published July 20, 2018)

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