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Davis Journal

New WAVE technology intended to increase swimmer safety

May 30, 2023 11:44AM ● By Becky Ginos

A baby has fun in the pool while wearing the WAVE headband. The wireless system alerts lifeguards when someone is in trouble. Courtesy photo

CLEARFIELD—School’s almost out and summertime fun includes swimming. Clearfield City is also working to make swimming safe. May is Drowning Prevention Month and at the beginning of the month, the city introduced WAVE, a drowning detection technology to enhance lifeguarding and increase safety.

“The aquatic department has been looking at the technology for a few years,” said Clearfield City Communications Manager, Shaundra Rushton. “There are only 25 facilities in the U.S. that have WAVE technology and only one in Utah that is in Park City. We saw how it worked and vetted it.”

So far the Clearfield pool has had zero drownings, she said. “We want to keep it that way.”

According to the CDC, drowning is the number one cause of accidental injury-related death for children under the age of five. It’s the number two cause for ages 1-14. 

With the WAVE system, swimmers wear lightweight, comfortable headsets with bluetooth that communicates wirelessly with the system twice every second. This enables WAVE to accurately determine how long the swimmer has been under water.

“They hook to a hub and lifeguards wear wristbands that vibrate,” Rushton said. “There's a light beacon at each pool so they can tell which pool the vibration is coming from, then look underwater to see if someone is in trouble.”

There are already multiple lifeguards at a time who look at the water every 10 seconds, she said. “They can see if there are kids who are in trouble and also look up at the light beacon.”

The headsets are comfortable, said Rushton. “We had one child who walked out with them on and left the building. There are three types of headsets, the main one WAVE uses and there are also goggle clips that attach to goggles. Kids don’t really notice those. For little small babies it’s a headband clip like goggles that go around a baby’s head.”

It’s required for kids 12 years old and younger, she said. “Kids have risky behaviors at pools like swimming without a life jacket and seeing how long they can hold their breath. That’s why we require it up to 12.”

Rushton said they’ve done their best to market it. “Someone at the front desk will let them know that a child under 12 must wear it. They’ll stand with all the headsets by the locker room and kids have to stick it on before they get into the pool.”

It’s the rule across the board, she said. “Drownings happen so fast. It’s like other safety concerns. We want it to become as normal as putting on a helmet.” λ