Problem Solver - August 2011
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Improve Drowning Prevention at Your Pool

Preventing drowning is a central concern for managers of aquatic facilities. A well-trained and certified lifeguarding staff is the first line of defense, but no matter how well prepared you are, you will not be able to foresee or prevent 100 percent of the problems that might occur.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people drown every day in the United States. For every person who drowns, four times as many people nearly drown. While these incidents don't all take place in swimming pools, some of them do—including in pools with certified professional lifeguards on hand.

Q: We have certified lifeguards on staff. Isn't that enough?

A: It doesn't matter how well trained or experienced your lifeguarding staff is. They face daily challenges in doing their jobs.

It's not possible for lifeguards to monitor all swimmers all the time. Environmental factors such as sunlight reflecting off the water, the activity of other swimmers and high noise can all reduce a lifeguard's ability to maintain constant vigilance. On top of this, studies have shown other factors—from the amount of sleep the lifeguard had the night before to the food he or she ate for lunch—can affect their ability to guard effectively.

In just seconds a swimmer can get into trouble and start to drown. And while most people think drowning victims yell and wave their arms, this is simply not the case. When every second can mean the difference between life and death, you want to be sure you have every possible resource on hand to prevent drowning from occurring in your pool.

Q: What kinds of tools are available to complement our lifeguarding staff?

A: It's not a matter of adding more lifeguards or providing better training. To provide an additional layer of protection, you need a better means of surveillance and detection.

A computer-aided drowning detection system assists lifeguards and can alert them in seconds when a swimmer is in trouble.

The systems use computer vision technology to keep a constant eye on the pool and monitor swimmers' trajectories. By analyzing activity in the pool caught by a network of cameras located both above and below the surface, the system can quickly alert lifeguards and supervisors when someone is in trouble.

An LED display panel alerts the lifeguard to the problem in as little as 10 seconds. At the same time, a supervision workstation also gets the alert. Real-time video images of the incident and its location are displayed and recorded, offering an invaluable tool both at the moment the incident occurs as well as for later review.

Q: Can a system like this enable me to cut back on my lifeguarding staff?

A: Absolutely not. This type of system is meant to complement your existing practices, not replace your well-trained lifeguards. The system cannot save people from drowning. Only lifeguards can do that. You should never consider reducing or modifying your lifeguard staff or their duties as required by regulation or best practices.


Poseidon Technologies Inc.: 877-565-2949