Life Saver: How your phone could save your child from drowning

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Gracen Green, Age 3

I don’t remember how old I was.

I know I was just tall enough that my hand was by my right ear as I held my mother’s. I remember all the neighbors gathered around on the sidewalk talking in groups. The firetruck and ambulance were very loud. There was chaos. I remember being scared. It was Mrs. Adams’ house. She was my mom’s friend and something was very wrong.  I remember seeing a stretcher rolling out from the gate to the ambulance. On it was a little boy being resuscitated. As it turned out, Mrs. Adam’s nephew was found at the bottom of the pool in the middle of a pool party.

That story, however, had a happy ending. He survived and went on to lead a very normal life.

My brother Billy’s nephew was not so lucky. Just a toddler, he died after spending at least 7 minutes submerged in the backyard pool when another child forget to lock the pool gate.  He is not alone.tweet18mdrown

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It’s preventable tragedy like those above that led a group of dads to turn our obsession with technology into technology that can save lives. Yep, there’s an app for drowning now. More on that in a moment– but first if you think drowning is no longer a problem in this world — think again.

According to the CDC, 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning. Of those ten people dying every day, 1 in 5 are children 14 years-old and younger.  Future inventors, teachers and leaders of the world. Three hundred lives a month — lost to something completely preventable.

DROWNINGINFO

So back to that app.

My family just recently built a pool in our backyard. We are outside people, living in the south and a dip in the water can mean all the difference between hot summer misery and saving grace!  I am also the mother of a one and a half and three year-old that don’t know how to swim just yet. They love to be anywhere near the water like their mom. Mom is also a tech-geek. So when my mother mentioned she heard about a new app and bracelet for pool safety, I was intrigued.

I started to research and there are all kinds of products on the market but I wanted something that would be tied to my phone. The reason? As a journalist, my phone is never within 3 feet of my hands. (Yes, it’s a problem…maybe a slight addiction but that’s another story, another article).

In my research, I came across iSWIMBAND. I wanted to give it a try so I spent the $40 buying it online to test it out. Given that drowning is still such an issue and protecting our children is tantamount, I wanted to share my experience here for other moms and dads and caregivers. I have no ties to this company, am not being paid for this and the observations and thoughts are 100% my own.

The iSWIMBAND Story

Sadly, the inspiration behind iSWIMBAND was born from tragedy. Three dads got together and created Aquatic Safety Concepts LLC after one of their children’s classmates drowned at a park. The 9 year-old was believed to be under water for 5 minutes. He survived but apparently will deal with neurological problems all of his life. Shockingly, this all happened despite lifeguards, camp counselors and even parents watching the water that day. Untitled Infographic

The founding “fathers” spent 8 years collaborating with safety professionals and engineers creating safety systems for commercial facilities. Once we became a smartphone addicted world, the dads wisely adopted that technology for people like you and me.

What is iSWIMBAND?

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It’s a relatively simple device that connects through your phone via bluetooth. It’s a small package that comes with an instruction book, one monitor, a wristband, a larger band and a clip.

**Mommy Note #1: Don’t even try the headband if you have a normal child 5 or under. It will be on the ground before you know it.

Luckily there is a wrist and a clip option. For my 3 year-old, I called it *jewelry* and made a big deal about her new bracelet! (Laugh all you want- it worked!) I do think the clip was rather genius though for older swimmers who wear goggles or the ability to clip on a waistband, etc.

The technology is pretty simple. You set up an app on your phone, you create a profile for your child and you’re off.

**Mommy Note #2: I’m kind of an organizational freak. I like my apps a certain way and I don’t like clutter. If you have more than one little person in your world, good news: the app can monitor up to 8 of these devices.

One other cool thing about this device that is worth mentioning – it’s not just for the non-swimmer. So it’s not just a tool that sends out the alert the minute it gets wet — UNLESS YOU WANT IT TO. If your child can swim, you can program the device to alert you if there is an unusual lack of motion. I’m not going to break down all the ins and outs, you can read about them here. I am a visual person though so if you are like me, I included a little slideshow for you.

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The point is it’s a device not just for drowning prevention but swim safety. I like that.  Here’s a look at the device in action courtesy of iSWIMBAND:

In the end, no device is going to take the place of a watchful, focused eye.  As moms and dads, we have to be ever-vigilant. Technology is just another tool in the parenting tool box and as hard as this job is– I’ll take it! There will always be critics when it comes to aesthetics (“iSwimband Looks Dorky”) or pricing or motivation and as with anything, the best Mommy Note is to do your research.

I know I always will because I have two very good reasons to.

Bonus: [View the story “The iSwimband Conversation” on Storify]

Notes: This article is a multimedia assignment for my Social Media & News class at the University of Florida. The article was researched by me online, in social media, and through experimentation with the iSwimband. I created the Infographics, the slideshow, and all photography was taken by me. The official iSwimband video is provided courtesy of the company from their media kit. I did have a video interview set up (complete with news crew) with the iSwimband COO who happens to live in Atlanta but he canceled the night before due to unexpected out of town travel. We were not able to reschedule in time to make this deadline. My target audience for this is anyone who swims or has children/family who swim. My focus for viral opportunities/shareability would be the strong mom-blogger contingent interested in safety for their children in these summer months. After some research I would use #PoolSafety #Pool #Drown and #iswimband in my social sharing because most information regarding this topic seems to be aggregated there.

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