Safety experts fear drowning statistics increase as more families purchase swimming pools
CHICAGO – With more swimming pools due to the pandemic, water safety experts fear that drowning statistics are also increasing.
Like many families, Rachel Plepel and her family took the plunge and bought a swimming pool last summer.
“With the pandemic, we needed something to occupy our children,” Plepel said.
His two sons, Cameron, three and a half, and Evan, 18, seem to like him very much.
However, they have different attitudes when it comes to water safety.
“Cameron is very careful. He doesn’t like going in the water without an adult which is great,” Plepel said. “Then we have Evan, who has just started walking and is not afraid.”
Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children between the ages of one and four, according to the CDC.
“One of the biggest misconceptions people have about drowning is its speed and silence,” said Adam Katchmarchi of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance.
This is why the Plepels have put in place several safety measures to help prevent such an accident.
There are locks on the courtyard gate, a removable pool ladder, and a buddy system, to name a few.
As with most aspects of our lives, technology is making waves in the way we do things, including swimming pool safety.
“New technologies are entering the market every day when it comes to water safety,” said Katchmarchi.
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A group of swimmers from the southern outskirts of Frankfurt showed FOX 32 how one of the newer devices on the market works.
“Wave is a drowning detection system that measures the length of time each swimmer is underwater,” said Mark Caron of Waves DDS.
Every swimmer has a portable device that attaches to either a headband or swimming goggles. The device transmits a low-energy Bluetooth signal to a hub. The device beeps twice per second.
When a swimmer goes underwater, the signal is blocked and the hub triggers an alarm if a swimmer has been underwater for too long.
“So if it’s overwhelmed, it’s the absence of that swimmer that we’re looking for,” Caron said. “We basically have a stopwatch on each swimmer, keeping track of how long they are underwater.”
The alarm setting is adjustable.
Caron recommends 15 seconds for young children and 20 to 30 seconds for accomplished swimmers.
If you are not near the hub, you can still hear the alarm go off on your cell phone or computer, as the system is connected to your home Wi-Fi network and sends visual and audio alerts.
“There are even new systems coming to the market now that use artificial intelligence and cameras to see the backyard and recognize when there is someone in a potentially dangerous situation,” Katchmarchi said.
Olympian Bode Miller and his wife lost their 19-month-old daughter in a drowning accident three years ago.
He is now a spokesperson for another drowning detection device called Coral Manta.
FOX 32 asked the company for an interview about their product, but received no response.
In the meantime, a security expert has high hopes for this new technology.
“We all see this as, hopefully, a new layer of protection that can help reduce the risk of drowning and reduce the number of drownings we see, especially in backyard pools,” said Katchmarchi.
As technology changes the way we implement water security, experts still say the best plan of attack is to put in multiple layers of protection.
Things like a pool fence, locked gates, and rescue gear.
Experts say putting more than one security measure in place is essential because anything or anyone can fail.