Well, Heroes. Here in Michigan, summer is almost upon us. Time to think about staying safe around water. According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the leading cause of traumatic death among children under 5 years of age (CDC.gov), as well as the leading cause of unintentional injury or death worldwide. Here are some frightening statistics:
- “Any given swimming pool is nearly 100 times more likely to kill a child than any given gun.”- Freakanomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
- For every fatality from drowning, 6-10 times more people suffer permanent neurological injuries with an average lifetime care cost of over $4.5 million. – American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010
- On average each day in the U.S., more than 1 child dies from a drowning event; more than 11 children are injured. – CPSC: Pool or Spa Submersion: Estimated Injuries and Reported Fatalities 2010 Report
- 88% of child drownings occur under adult supervision. – US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
- Testing indicates that fewer than 10% of lifeguards would identify a submerged object within 10 seconds. – Safe Wise Consulting/ The Philadelphia Insurance Group.
- CDC Drowning Report
I recently learned that Graham Snyder, MD, a specialist in emergency medicine at WakeMed Health & Hospitals since 2002, has set out to do something about it. Along with fellow pediatric emergency physician Dr. Courtney Mann, Snyder founded the Raleigh-based company Thermocline Ventures, Inc. (TVI) to tackle the global problem. The founders teamed with top design and engineering professionals, competitive swimmers, coaches, commercial pool operators, and a panel of active swimming families and residential pool owners to deliver the ideal swim monitor.
What they developed is called The SEAL, the first-ever portable in-water swim monitor and drowning detection system for commercial and residential pools and defined open-water swim areas. The SEAL will be commercially available this winter.
The SEAL system differs from typical pool alarms and commercial detection systems which rely on video or sonar systems to work. These can lack reliability and portability while requiring a significant investment and complex installation. Most residential pool alarms alert caregivers if someone has fallen into the water, with the basic goal of restricting access to the swimming pool. The goal of the SEAL system is to get swimmers into the water. Let’s face it: you can’t learn to swim if you’re not in the water.
The SEAL system lets swimmers play, jump, dive, even hold their breath yet remain safe in the water with a wearable, wireless swim monitor that alarms if the system detects a potential drowning incident. In the event of an emergency, the system responds with audio, visual and vibrating alarm. This breaks through life’s distractions, prompting lifeguards and parents to begin rescue procedures long before the swimmer suffers medical complications.
Thermocline Ventures, Inc., a Raleigh, NC company now with eight employees, is leveraging the collective power of crowdfunding on Indiegogo.com to offer the opportunity to pre-order The SEAL and support its mission of safe swimming practices. Those who contribute $100 or greater will receive credits toward purchasing their own SEAL system. The Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign continues until June 15.
Here’s a video where Graham Snyder, MD, discuss the leading cause of traumatic death in children ages 1-4: on YouTube