The Dangers of Water Wings (Floaties)

Every year in Southern California and at most children’s pool parties, there is always an abundance of small kids wearing floaties also referred to as “water wings”. Our staff gets quite worried when seeing floaties on kids which attracts our attention on the deck.

Although very popular among parents, floaties are in fact dangerous and not recommended nor endorsed by Golden State Lifeguards.

Since the 1960s, floaties have been used by parents as swimming aids for children. Though these floaties have been very popular since they came out, experts say they may not be the best choice of swimming aid.

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Our experience with floaties is they do not always work and only give children and parents a false sense of security in the water. On numerous occasions, we have had to assist children because of faulty floaties as they have either deflated or have slipped off their arms. Tragedy had been avoided but without a lifeguard on the deck could have resulted in a different outcome.

Floaties also work against children as it teaches them to rely on the floaties to prop them above the water line when they jump into a pool or come down an inflatable slide for example. Floaties also make it more difficult for children to learn to swim as they are used to swimming around in a vertical position rather than a horizontal position. It has been noted that when working with a swim instructor, children will resist the horizontal swimming position because they have come to rely on the floaties for buoyancy.

Floaties were made to augment water safety with an adult at arm’s reach within the child. It was never meant to be used a stand-alone drowning prevention tool. Instead we recommend that parents purchase approved life jackets that are much safer to use and will protect a child from drowning.


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We must stress that nothing will ever replace the need for direct adult or lifeguard supervision. We also want to add that children should be enrolled into swimming lessons as soon as possible to learn to be watersafe and to learn how to swim. You will thank yourself later for doing this!


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