Submerging into Deception: The Hazards of Water Wings    - The North County Moms


Ah, the quintessential summer scene: families frolicking in the water, enjoying the sun’s warm embrace. Within this picturesque setting, a silent danger lurks, often unnoticed by well-intentioned parents—water wings.


These buoyant companions, donned by young swimmers, may seem harmless, but beneath their cheerful exterior lies a web of dangers that can transform a day of aquatic fun into a tragedy.


Understanding Water Wings

Before diving into the risks, it’s crucial to grasp what water wings truly are. Also dubbed floaties, they’re inflatable bands worn around a child’s upper arms to aid buoyancy. However, unlike regulated safety gear like life jackets, water wings offer no assurance of protection. Lauren Stack, a renowned expert in swimming safety, underscores this distinction, noting that while water wings allow children to experience water, they aren’t safety devices. This distinction is often overlooked by parents eager to introduce their kids to aquatic environments.


The False Sense of Security


One of the most threatening dangers posed by water wings is the false security they instill. Parents, reassured by the sight of their child floating effortlessly, may unwittingly let their guard down. This momentary lapse in vigilance, whether due to distractions or complacency, can have dire consequences. Moreover, children emboldened by water wings may venture into deeper waters without understanding the risks, fostering a false sense of invulnerability. The American Academy of Pediatrics highlights the importance of constant adult supervision of children, especially near water.


Impeding Swim Development


While water wings offer temporary support, they obstruct the natural progression of swim skills. By keeping children in a vertical position, they hinder the learning process of proper swimming techniques, fostering dependency rather than proficiency. Furthermore, water wings fail to teach essential survival skills like rolling over and floating on one’s back, leaving children ill-prepared for emergencies. This lack of readiness increases their vulnerability to accidents in the water.


United States Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets


Given the risks associated with water wings, parents are urged to explore United States Coast Guard approved life jackets. USCG-approved life jackets provide reliable protection, encouraging proper swim techniques with a horizontal orientation. According to the USCG website they state when choosing a life jacket for a child that  “to work right, a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) must fit snugly on a child. To check for a good fit, pick the child up by the shoulders of the PFD. If the PFD fits right, the child’s chin and ears will not slip through.” 

Additionally, enrolling children in professional swim lessons is essential. These lessons not only mitigate the risk of drowning but also instill confidence and competence in young swimmers, empowering them to navigate water safely. 




Despite their innocent appearance, water wings possess significant risks for both parents and children. As stewards of our children’s safety, it’s imperative to remain vigilant and informed about water safety. By prioritizing USCG-approved life jackets over water wings, we can ensure that our children enjoy aquatic activities responsibly, without compromising their safety. After all, the pleasure of swimming should never come at the expense of security.


Main Street Swim School

Prepare to embark on a splashing adventure where learning meets laughter, and swimming skills are just a dive away. At Main Street Swim School, we’re passionate about making a splash in your little ones’ lives, while ensuring their safety and fostering a lifelong love for the water. Visit our website and sign up for a FREE trial class at one of our 5 locations across San Diego County today! Click the following link to see class schedules and availability: 


Links To USCG Approved Lifejackets

Submerging into Deception: The Hazards of Water Wings
Written by London Blake, Site Director
Main Street Swim School

Main Street Swim School is a marketing partner with The North County Moms.

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