When it comes to pool and water safety, you really can't be too careful. During the summer, we spend a lot of time in the water! Pools and beaches and rivers and lakes - it's the season of swimming, and kids love the water. However, it's also the time when we need to be at our most diligent. Drowning is the leading cause of preventable death for kids between the ages of 1-4. It just takes a moment, a second, for tragedy to occur in the water. A lot of parents use flotation devices for an added sense of security. And while some of these devices are acceptable, there are others that can actually increase the odds of something going wrong when your kids are in the water. When it comes to water safety, experts all agree: just say no to water wings and arm floaties.
Water wings and arm floaties are the inflatable bands that go around a child's upper arms in the water. You likely used them when you were a kid. But when we know better, we do better, right? Water wings are not a safe flotation device, according to senior program manager at The National Safety Council Amy Artuso. Not safe as in ever, at any age, in any type of water. In fact, water wings can actually put your child in danger in the water! They can slip off or deflate. They can also give your child a sense of overconfidence in their swimming or water abilities, and they could jump in without supervision.
Additionally, water wings do not position the child's face properly and safely above water; the arms are kept above water, but their face is susceptible to being down in the water. And again, it only takes a moment.
When it comes to water safety, your best line of defense is teaching your kids to swim. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that kids start swim lessons as early as a year old, and this is especially important if you have a pool or spend a lot of time around water. As far as flotation devices go, the only expert-recommended option is a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
There's also something called a Puddle Jumper, which is like a cross between water wings and a life jacket. They're made from the same buoyant material as a life jacket, and correctly position the upper body and head in the water. However, they should only be used in calm waters. It boils down to this: your kid's best protection in the water is being within arms reach of an adult at all times and starting swim lessons early.
If you need to use a flotation device, make sure it's a life jacket. And throw those water wings away.