Are water wings safe for young children? While they can help your child stay afloat, it’s important to remember that they cannot fully prevent the risk of drowning.
Swimming offers a delightful activity for the entire family, including the littlest members like babies and toddlers. Familiarizing them with water early on can simplify the process of learning to swim later. Engaging in water-based activities with kids should be enjoyable, but prioritizing safety is essential. This becomes particularly significant when considering the use of floaties or water wings for younger children to assist them in staying buoyant.
Water wings allow non-swimmers to enjoy the water without the risk of drowning, but they still need to be supervised by an adult at all times. The most significant risk that is created by toys like water wings is the increased likelihood that parents will be tempted to let their children play in the shallow end without keeping a close eye on them.
Using these floatation devices with your infant or toddler who cannot swim while you are not within arm’s reach of them and without maintaining visual contact with them puts them at risk of drowning. Find out more about the potential risks associated with using floaties, and read up on the most effective strategies for ensuring your child’s safety in the water if you decide to use water wings.
The Dangers Inherent in Using Water Wings
When you decide to use water wings with your infant or young child, you need to ask and answer several essential questions. The most important thing is to have an understanding of how they can actually enhance the chances of getting hurt or drowned. Having said that, using water wings with your child can be an enjoyable and risk-free method to spend time in the water together. Yet, extreme caution is required at all times to protect the wellbeing of the youngster.
What Exactly Are Water Wings, Anyway?
Water wings, commonly referred to as floaties, are buoyant swimming aids that are worn around the upper arms and are intended to assist younger children in floating while they are swimming. Water wings are not considered to be safety equipment by the United States Coast Guard, unlike life jackets and other types of life preservers. Water wings should not be mistaken for life jackets or other types of life preservers.
“Water wings are a tool for parents to let babies experience the water, but they are not safety devices,” says Lauren Stack, who was the former managing director of the regional division at the National Swimming Pool Foundation, which is no longer in operation. “Water wings are a tool for parents to let babies experience the water.”
One of the potential hazards is that the wings can easily detach from your child’s arms, which is more likely if they do not have a chest component that is attached. The material that is inflated is susceptible to tearing, deflation, and loosening. Also, it could be challenging for your child to turn back over if they turn onto their stomach while wearing the water wings, making breathing harder for them.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) cautions against using equipment like water wings (children and parents) for various reasons, including the possibility that they could provide both parents a false sense of security. Little children may have the misconception that they will constantly float to the surface of the water, even when they are not wearing wings. Their self-assurance can encourage them to enter the water without using any safety equipment, which could put them at risk of getting hurt or accidentally drowning.
People of all ages, not just children, can develop an unhealthy dependence on the floaties. According to Stack, if parents rely on water wings, they will constantly have the mindset that their child will come right up. It’s possible for parents to erroneously believe that they can take their eyes off their children or even briefly turn their backs on them. For instance, you might allow yourself to rest by the pool while scrolling through Instagram or reading a few pages of your book, and as a result, you might miss the fact that your child’s water wing has come loose or that they are lying face-down in the water.
Last but not least, giving your child water wings can prevent them from acquiring basic swimming techniques that would help them stay afloat. The floaties force the bodies of the children to assume a vertical position. But, contrary to popular belief, bodies do not remain vertical while submerged in water. To become proficient at swimming, one must be able to tolerate getting one’s head wet and remaining horizontal when submerged in water. Youngsters who are used to riding on floaties will have to use more effort than usual to find their center of balance.
Should I Put Floaties on My Child?
If you so choose, you can still let your child utilize water wings; however, a responsible adult must always be within arm’s reach of the child (also known as “touch supervision,” according to the AAP). According to Stack, “ninety percent of all drownings occur within 30 feet of safety, and sixty percent of all drownings occur within ten feet of safety.” Parents who are within reach of their children may immediately sense if their child’s water wings are not functioning properly and rush to their aid. Also, connecting with your child while they are in the water is an enjoyable activity in and of itself.
Stack suggests that parents enroll their children in professional swim classes as a better approach, particularly after the youngster has reached the age of a few years old. “Teaching your child how to swim is the finest thing you can do for them,” she says. A person’s likelihood of drowning is cut in half by taking formal swimming lessons.
It is advisable to choose a personal floatation device that is approved by the United States Coast Guard until then, and it is ideal to wait until your child is totally competent in swimming alone before allowing them to do so. Having said that, it is important to remember that even children (and adults) who are excellent swimmers still need to be supervised when they are in a pool or other body of water, as drowning can occur even to proficient swimmers.
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