Since the 1960s, inflatable arm bands have been used by parents as swimming aids for children. Though these arm bands have been very popular since they came out, experts say they may not be the best choice of swimming aid.
Inflatable arm band, more commonly known as water wings, are not a life-saving device; they will not prevent a child from accidentally going under water and potentially drowning. Remember, water wings can slip off or easily deflate. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of water wings is the feeling of safety they provide for both the child and the adult responsible for watching the child. These water wings give children a false sense of security and lead them to believe that they can swim on their won. “Inflatable arm bands teach kids to jump in and let the floats do the work of popping them back up to the surface," said Bob Hubbard, owner of Hubbard Family Swim School. "They learn to run and jump with complete abandonment and use the floats to raise them high in the water rather than relaxing and trusting the water to float them." Along with this, adults feel that their children are safe in the water when in reality they are not safe unless under constant supervision. Children of all ages should be supervised by an adult while in the pool or near any body of water. Even the most advanced swimmers can fall and bump their head or slip and need help.
Finally, inflatable armbands teach children an improper vertical position in the water, instead of the correct horizontal swimming posture. As the instructor begins working on back floating, the first step in water-safety training, your child may feel uncomfortable and resist working in the horizontal position. They may also be unused to water splashing across her face or getting into their ears. Feeling comfortable with rolling to their back and floating is the single most important aspect of a child’s being safe in an unexpected water situation and arm floaties make learning these lifesaving skills difficult.
Try using a swim noodle in place of wings. The benefit is that the child can better understand that they and the noodle are separate, while children may not always understand that the floaties are the reason for their floating. The noodle also helps to engage the deltoids and scapula in the upper back, muscles and bones that are important in swimming.
Jump Start Swimming
At Jump Start Swimming we know that your child is the most important thing in your life and because of this we want to provide our parents with all the information necessary to keep your child safe in the water. If you have any questions about water safety please feel free to email us or check out the water safety articles on our website.