Drown-Proof Your Child
Last summer, one of our advisors, pediatrician Ari Brown, M.D., shared a very sad story with us: One of her patients, 4-year-old Colin, had drowned a few years earlier in a community pool in their hometown of Austin, Texas–with family and friends all around. Colin’s parents have since founded Colin’s Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about water safety and drowning prevention, and their work has provided swim lessons for children who need but can’t afford them, and educates the public about what it takes to prevent drowning.
Dr. Brown wrote about Colin, the organization, and everything we as parents should be doing to keep our children safe around the water in our August issue. Just as the issue arrived in our offices, tragedy struck a family in the town next to mine: Two brothers, ages 3 and 5, left their house, climbed their next-door-neighbor’s fence, and drowned in the neighbor’s pool.
This makes me think about a product called Safety Turtle. It’s a wristband (with a turtle’s face) that a young child wears whenever he’s not supposed to be around water. You have to lock it on your child (literally, with a key) so that it can’t come off. Should the wristband become immersed in water, an alarm on the wireless base unit sounds, and doesn’t stop until you reset it. Dr. Brown asked Jan Emler, the founder of a swim school in Austin, for her thoughts on a product like Safety Turtle. She said, “Since the majority of preschool drowning deaths occur in backyard pools, we are in favor of an alarm system that stays with the child. As long as supervising adults make certain the child is wearing the wristband and properly power the base station, this alarm system can be an effective weapon in the arsenal used to fight childhood drowning. It’s one more layer of protection–along with uninterrupted adult, visual supervision; formal swim lessons; and four-sided fencing.” Safety Turtle works best in fresh water, but there are ways to use it in salt water, explained here.
I can’t help but think of those two little boys, whose lives could have been saved if they’d been wearing something like this.
Safety Turtle, $280.