Written by: Rylie Shore
Though innocently disguised in bright reds and blues or patterns of flowers, water wings (also known as “floaties”) are one of the more dangerous “safety” devices and can actually hinder a child’s process of learning to swim. It is ironic, we know, that the flotation device you buy to keep your child above water can actually be a drowning hazard. But before you trust the blow up device you slip over your child’s arm, here are a few things to consider:
- Water wings give parents a false sense of security. When children have on water wings, parents are less likely to watch their children swimming in the pool. However, water wings easily slip off a child’s arm because they are not secured to their body, and accidents can happen when parents are not attentive.
- Water wings are also not well designed to keep a child upright. If the water wings shift slightly or a child gets off balance while wearing them, the flotation device can actually keep a child face down in the water. Because the water wings limit a child’s range of motion, it is difficult for children to get themselves upright again.
- Water wings give a child confidence in the water that the child associates with their ability to swim rather than the flotation device keeping them above water. Even when they are not wearing the water wings, they oftentimes still believe they can swim and will attempt to do so without supervision.
- Water wings force children into a vertical position, but people are most buoyant when they are horizontal in the water. The help of the flotation device takes away the ability for a child to feel their body float naturally in the water.
- Water wings can stunt a child’s process of learning how to swim. Because they give children false confidence and force their body into positions that are unnatural in the water, it can be difficult to re-teach them a healthy relationship with the water.
Though we know it is tempting to throw some water wings on the kids and let them move freely about the pool, it is not worth the risk of drowning. When enjoying a day in the pool, avoid the water wings by swimming with the kids or getting them into swim lessons early. In instances where a flotation device is absolutely necessary (such as a lake), use a life vest instead of water wings. There are so many ways for you and your children to enjoy the water, even without the water wings, so we hope to see you out in the pool this summer!