High-tech iSwimband no substitute for pool supervision

| January 20, 2014 | 9 Comments

A new high-tech water safety detector entered the market this week, even making a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (skip to about the 40-minute mark to see the interview). The iSwimband is a headband and wristband that alerts parents or guardians if kids fall in the water or are submerged for too long.

Unlike other products on the market such as Safety Turtle, the iSwimband (pre-order for $125) uses Bluetooth technology to pair with an iOS device (Android is said to be coming soon) coupled with an app. Unfortunately, the app isn’t yet available so I couldn’t review its capabilities. In theory the app would allow users to set alarm parameters, including when the band is below water for an extended period, or if the band hits the water at all.

iswimband box

The iSwimband is a nice idea, but we think it might be the first thing off when kids decide to jump into the pool. From iSwimband.com.

Despite its high-tech promise, the iSwimband raises a number of thorny water-safety questions, especially related to young children.

To the manufacturer’s credit, the product is marketed as one of the layers of protection against drowning. That’s important because drowning is the second leading cause of death in the United States for children aged 1-4and the fifth leading cause of death nationwide. Such a device could prevent such deaths.

But it could also lead to a false sense of security on the part of parents or guardians. Every water safety advocate I know emphasizes that when it comes to layers of protection, there’s absolutely no substitute for onsite pool supervision , preferably within an arm’s reach. That’s because drowning can happen much more quickly than most people realize — within 30 seconds. And it can happen much more quietly than Hollywood has led us to believe.

Even if the technology is working correctly, there’s too much room for human error in a device such as iSwimband. It only works if kids are wearing it, and a headband that gives you a third eye isn’t exactly a tween fashion accessory. Toddlers are very good at wriggling out of almost anything you put on them, too.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the iSwimband makers have good intentions. But devices such as these are sold on the premise of giving peace of mind. That’s a recipe for removing the most critical layer of low-tech protection money can buy: a present, vigilant, watchful human being. 

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Category: Pools, Safety

About the Author

Gary Thill is the former editor of Aquatics International, an award-winning magazine for the commercial pool and waterpark markets. He is a nationally recognized writer and editor with an extensive communications background that includes print, online and social media.