The most common drowning victims are typically adult males that don't wear life jackets and drink alcohol. Vast majority of drowning 80%+ are due to not wearing a life-jacket.
Children, especially young boys are likely to follow their fathers example -- are the second most likely group.
In adverse weather, or night time sailing a jacklined tether is advisable.
If you'd like to practice KOB, when the time comes, you have to be there.
In Canada at least, 43% of people that drowned were within 7feet of shore, i.e. on dock.
So you have every reason to be wearing a life-jacket, on boat AND on dock much like a seatbelt.
I'm not sure how old your kids are, but the key is teaching them how to swim. I think we agree on that. The inflateables are not acceptable for children under a certain age (I cannot remember the age). The best LJ's are the mustangs for kids up to about 60 lbs, then we switch off to a more traditional and comfortable jacket.
Comfort is the key to wearing a life jacket for any long periods of time. WHen the kids are old enough to legally wear a inflateable, they will have one. Exception is offshore, but that is another discussion.
We do not wear LJ's at the dock. DO you and your kids really do that? I NEVER see that, and I know a LOT of cruising kids and parents. Now, mind you in WA, I think it is a law up to a certain age. No getting around that. But certainly down here, no way they would wear them at the dock. Just teach them to swim and (what we always do) point out the exit spots on the docks. It is a wonder how many people fail at simply pointing out the exits from the docks.
I suspect most of the people that die at the docks either hit freezing cold water and went into shock, or were plastered/drunk. All the drownings I am aware of were from people being drunk. Unless you outlaw alcohol on the water, that statistic will never change. But since we can assume your child is not drunk, shock and learning to swim are the two key components to preventing drowning. If I were around water where falling in was lethal, I would consider a LJ and for my children too. Honestly, though, when the water is that cold we typically avoid the boat.
In terms of lifejackets, I only trust the solid kind, too many points of failure in inflatables.
I don't agree with that. Moreso, by having the harness an intregal part of the jacket, they are more likely to be worn and used when they otherwise might not. Regular harnesses are terribly uncomofortable when also added into a offshore LJ, not to mention any other gear you would put on. I would not sacrifice safety in terms of comfort, but I believe a well made inflateable with integral harness is perfectly safe for offshore use.
Jumping in after someone is potentially fatal and should be avoided,
I've heard of, and had my own personal experience, that saving a drowning person is dangerous, since they aren't swimming properly and so try to climb on top of you, thus not letting you breathe. The only way to save a panicking person by swiming to them is to knock them out first, which I would strongly discourage for children with their thin skulls and all. So the best method is to give them something to grab onto, i.e. flag-pole, boat-hook, rope-ladder, until they are safely aboard.
No offense, but that is absolutely incorrect. I was a Red Cross certified Life Guard for six years. That was how I made my money to go to college. I have never heard of knocking someone out to rescue them. Where did you read that?? Crap, if you are going to do that, just let them drown and then go after them. One of several correct methods is to swim under them and come up behind them and place your arm across their shoulder and under the other arm. A better option is to swim to them with another life preserver and let them grab onto that while towing them back to shore. It is absolutely true that a drowning person will try and pull you under, but there are ways out of that too. I have rescued MANY drowning people, and most of them adults (believe it or not). Going into the water is a last option, but sometimes you have no choice. THere are reasonable and safe ways to do it that don't include knocking someone out. I have never heard of that in my life. I certainly can't immagine someone doing that to their child, and most children simply won't have the ability to pull down an adult unless the adult is a sucky swimmer.
The greater danger as this thread pertains to, is not that the adult will be killed as the child pulls them under, the issue is that now you have TWO people to rescue AND you have lost a lookout. In a flat lake in summer, that may not be a big deal. But in any seas, you can lose sight of a person very quickly... seconds actually. Now you have lost your lookout (who may or may not make it to the child), you have to resuce an adult too, and you have to handle the vessel on your own. It is a terrible idea to jump in the water after a child unless they went in without their lifejacket and the time to turn around would mean death. I cannot imagine that circumsance with a safety minded parent, but that is about the only way I can see to even consider it.
The whole acclimitizing to water and teaching them basics of floatation and swimmiing helps reduce chance of panicking. Up here in Canada, also winter-swimming is on the agenda, in order to get over "cold-water-shock" where in the first few seconds of hitting cold water, heart rate and breathing rate increase, unexperienced people may inhale water by accident, wheras experienced people can use it to swim to surface, get to the flag, get into heat-saving position, and then can do rapid "breath of fire" tumo meditation while they wait for the boat to return and pick them up.
In cold water, it is good idea to have winching system ready, as after 10 minutes in freezing water, fine motor skills don't function, so climbing boarding ladder may be difficult. In terms of hypothermia treatment, warm dry cabin, warm blankets, warm hugs, warm water, warm fire, warm dry clothing, and encouragement on a job well done, exhileration of living. Later on another day, can go over what went wrong, and make plans to avert similar scenario in future.
How do you "acclimate" for that? Do you really throw your child or adult in the water and tell them what to do? Aren't you concerned about serious medical conditions happening, like a stroke or shock? I understand talking this through with others and children, but I cannot imagine actually doing it. Seems terribly dangerous to me. Also, I thought the time to rescue was under five minutes? I guess it all depends on the water temp, the persons fat content, clothing, etc.