Guest Column - September 2011
Find a printable version here

Drowning Detection

The Need for Drowning Detection Technologies

By Dave Cutler

First, insurance companies that cover aquatic facilities welcome and support efforts to improve patron safety, particularly when it comes to aquatics. Industry insiders have indicated that by far, costs associated with drowning settlements exceed any other risk, including those that stem from sexual abuse cases. The result from using a drowning detection system is that substantial premium reductions will likely be provided. Amortized over time, these reductions will significantly offset the cost of implementing a drowning detection system.

Second, some systems enable facilities to share the burden of cost associated with elevating swimmer safety with their patrons. For example, one technology requires that swimmers wear lightweight headbands or specialized goggle straps. These devices can be retailed to patrons, resulting in a new revenue stream. Depending on your number of patrons, and as with insurance premium reductions, over time this continuing revenue can help dramatically to reduce the cost of implementing a system.

Third, implementing a drowning detection technology at your facility represents a unique and powerful marketing opportunity. Simply stated, providing a higher standard of care and safety attracts and keeps patrons at your facility. This becomes more evident when one takes into account the incredible power and influence the "mommy network" has on a community.

In addition, greatly reducing the risk of drowning at your facility also greatly reduces the risk of your staff, facility and community experiencing the painful repercussions that result when a drowning occurs. Public support and interest sour, employee morale drops, and a shadow lingers over the facility for an indefinite period of time. The costs, beyond financial, are clearly immeasurable.

Simply put, investing in a drowning detection system is no different than the correct decision to invest in a sprinkler system, a security system or safer vehicles for transporting your patrons. It's the right thing to do.

With its rate increasing, drowning represents the greatest singular risk at any recreational facility that offers swimming. Fortunately, it is now possible to be proactive and take the much needed step of addressing and reducing that risk by implementing a drowning detection technology at your facility. Your staff, patrons and your peace of mind deserve it.


Dave Cutler is the co-founder of Aquatic Safety Concepts LLC, where he is director of product development for the company's patented drowning detection technology, the Wahooo Swim Monitor System ( The company was formed as a response to a 9-year-old classmate of the founder's children drowning at a town park, despite the supervision of five lifeguards and six camp counselors.