Summer is here! I am looking forward to many lazy days at the pool with my two (soon to be three) water-lovin’ kiddos.
But I have a piece of advice that I’d really like you to follow:
Never put water wings (arm-floaties) on your children in the swimming pool. Water wings will not prevent your child from drowning.
Did you know that 90% of all drowning deaths occur within 30 feet of safety? (Red Cross).
Throughout high school and college my summers were spent as a lifeguard at a public pool. The job was fairly perfect…one hour on the stand monitoring the pool, one hour working the concession stand, and one hour spent lounging by the pool reading a book and working on my tan. Then repeat rotation…
Can I go back to those carefree days of my youth?
But the job of a lifeguard is actually very serious. Lifeguards are responsible for the safety of all the children and adults in a pool full of water.
I would actually wake up in the middle of the night not sleep walking, but sleep guarding. I’d find myself sitting in my bed, scouring the floor (what I thought was the pool), ready to jump off my bed to retrieve a child who had just gone under water. This dream happened over and over.
In reality, I only had to jump off my lifeguard stand a few times.
But most ALL of saves were because a child slipped out of his water wings. In all cases, the parents were close by but distracted. The child had slipped out of the floaties and was silently struggling under water.
Thankfully, my lifeguard training course had prepared me to keep a close eye on non-swimmers wearing arm floats. I watched those kids like hawks and swore I’d never allow my own children to wear them.
Here are six reasons why you should never put water wings on your child:
- Water wings are not a U.S. Coast Guard approved device for swimming.
- The air-filled chambers can POP very quickly. It just takes one small puncture for them to deflate.
- Arm-floats slip-off easily. Especially when kids jump off the edge into the water. (Water wings+ sunscreen + water = floaties easily sliding off a slippery arm).
- Water wings inhibit the ability to learn to swim.
- Floaties provide a false-sense of security to the parents. A parent’s back can be turned and a child slip under the water quickly & silently.
- Water wings will not prevent your child from drowning
Both the Mayo Clinic and the CDC say, “Don’t rely on air-filled or foam toys, such as water wings, noodles or inner tubes, to keep children safe.” ( http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/child-safety/art-20044744?pg=1 )
Arm-floaties are sold at every big-box and dollar-store in the area. They are inexpensive. But you should never privilege price or convenience over safety. Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. Those of us who love summer swim days need to use caution when taking our little ones to splish and splash. We can all have fun, but respect the water.
So What Can You Use?
Life jackets are the obvious answer, but can be a bit bulky for the pool. A great alternative is something called a Puddle-Jumper.
Did you know that those super-cute Puddle Jumpers are actually U.S. Coast Guard Approved?
They work great in the swimming pool for toddlers and pre-school children who haven’t yet learned to swim, but won’t be in your arms the entire time. They also work great for a day of fishing or boating, too!
Have a dynamite summer, but think twice about using arm-floaties at the pool!
Sarah Lewis Philpott, Ph.D lives in TN on a sprawling cattle farm where she raises her two mischievous children (with one on the way!) and is farm wife to her high school sweetheart. Sarah is represented by The Blythe Daniel Literary Agency . You can visit with Sarah at her All-American Mom blog where she writes about life on the farm and cherishing life in joy & in sorrow.