Join SWBP at the National Salute to American Heroes

Shallow Water Blackout Prevention is Proud to be an Exhibitor at the National Salute to American Heroes over Memorial Day Weekend in Miami.

 

We have been invited by the United States Coast Guard Air Station Miami to be an exhibitor during this very patriotic event and will be a prominent part of their Water Safety Exhibition  We will be located to the right of Block 14 (14th Street) on Miami Beach and within the Coast Guard’s display section, which is in the Display Village. If you live in or near Miami please visit our booth.

The National Salute to America’s Heroes is FREE and OPEN to the public. The best viewing for the Air & Sea Show is on Miami Beach between 11th and 14th streets, at show center with a small preferred seating area. Visit the Display Village, which spans more than 6 football fields, and includes interactive displays from all branches of the military, as well as corporate sponsors, food and beverage tents plus memorabilia and merchandise.

The National Salute to America’s Heroes presented by Hyundai is a 365-day initiative that launches Memorial Day weekend designed to pay tribute, honor and encourage military and first responder heroes. The National Salute to America’s Heroes presented by Hyundai is anchored by the Air & Sea Show, both of which combine to make a one-of-a-kind fan experience unparalleled anywhere in the country. The inaugural event is Memorial Day weekend 2017, which marks the beginning of an annually produced exhibition of gratitude all set upon the shores of Miami Beach, Florida. The Air & Sea Show is a patriotically-infused world-class showcase of military technology and power, military and first responder demonstrations in the air, on the sea and on the land. The Music Explosion presented by Hyundai stage hosts performances by top music entertainers. The National Salute to America’s Heroes presented by Hyundai website offers the most updated calendar of events, latest news and information on the military participants, press information, maps of the event, social media links and information on the military and first responder demonstrations.

For more information visit: http://usasalute.com

Meet Our Newest Ambassador, Nick Thompson!

 


Nick Thompson is a sixteen-year old avid water polo player and swim team member who also enjoys spear-fishing, surfing, snorkeling and freediving. Nick grew up in the seaside community of Newport Beach, California, a beautiful beach town that is home to the largest recreational harbor on the West Coast and ten miles of ocean coastline. Like most local residents, Nick has been swimming and participating in water sports since he was a young child. And, like many of his fellow community members, until recently Nick had never heard of SWB, despite completing Junior Guard training, volunteering on his neighborhood swim team as an assistant coach and participating in competitive water sports. 
 
Nick learned of SWB from a close family friend, who shared the story of how her son succumbed to this phenomenon, also referred to as the “silent killer.” In speaking to Karen Curreri, proud Gold Star mother of Staff Sergeant and Green Beret Joseph Curreri, Nick learned that Joe drowned in a lake in the Southern Philippine Islands during his first deployment. Nick was shocked to learn that even though Joe was an accomplished All-American varsity high school swimmer, water polo player, member of the USC Pac-10 All-Conference Team, 2002 Olympic Trials qualifier and the Distinguished Honor Graduate from the highly challenging Combat Diver Qualification Course, he died of SWB. Nick learned that SWB does not discriminate and has claimed the lives of a significant number of accomplished and experienced aquatic athletes, as well as children who engage in breath holding water games.
 
Nick was honored to accept the invitation to become the first West Coast Ambassador for the Shallow Water Blackout Prevention Association. As part of his Community Service graduation requirement for Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA, Nick will be distributing information to local water polo teams, swim teams, Surf and Dive Shops and Jr. Lifeguard Programs across Orange County.  More importantly, Nick’s hopes to honor Joe’s life and all of the other amazing people who have lost their life to SWB by increasing the public’s awareness of what SWB is and how to prevent it, thereby saving lives. With so many Southern Californians involved in water related activities the need for SWB education is paramount.
 
Besides sports, Nick is part of his school's governing organization, ASB, where he serves as a Senator. Nick has also devoted countless hours into his work with children on the autism spectrum and said that his motivation is his older brother, Zack, who is also on the spectrum. In his spare time, Nick enjoys music and attending concerts with his friends and family.

Welcome, Nick, we are so glad to have you!

13-year-old Boy Saves Victim of Shallow Water Blackout

Editor's Note: This week we received an email from a mother whose 13-year-old son experienced a shallow water blackout while their family was vacationing in Orlando, Florida.  This story shows how SWB can happen to an adolescent even while under responsible adult supervision.  We applaud young Clayton for his alertness and rescue of his best friend, Reagan.  Thank you, Teresa, for sharing your story and helping to raise awareness of the dangers of shallow water blackout. Lives will be saved!

Clayton (Left) and Reagan (Right)

Clayton (Left) and Reagan (Right)

A Story of Survival, as told by Teresa Lamear

"We went to Orlando with our 13 year old son Reagan and brought along a family friend, Clayton, who is the same age in March of this year. These boys have been close friends since first grade and get along fabulously. I don’t think they’ve ever fought.  We rented a house with a pool and hit the parks for a few days. The last day we spent at the house relaxing.

When we first got to the house and the boys jumped in the pool, we told them 'Hey, no crazy jumping. No ER trips this weekend.'  Saturday they were swimming pretty much the majority of the day either in the pool or the hot tub. With or without goggles.

Around 7:30 pm, the boys were in the pool and thankfully my husband Ron and I were also on the patio. At 13 years old and healthy kids, used to being in swimming pools their entire life, it wouldn’t be unknown for us to walk away briefly. Take the dogs for a walk, fix food in the kitchen etc. We were watching our tablets for a delayed rocket launch at Cape Canaveral while the boys swam. 

Reagan was taking his turn swimming underwater seeing how far he could go. He hadn’t gone nearly as far as he normally does when Clayton noticed his body language change. Instead of thinking it was a joke, Clayton swam to Reagan and pulled off his face mask goggles. He could tell Reagan was dead weight and making an odd sound. He started swimming holding Reagan’s head above water towards the edge. When Clayton came up for air he yelled for us and caught our attention. By then he had Reagan at the edge of the pool and we pulled him out. Reagan was still unconscious. I don’t know how many seconds passed, felt like at least 30, before he came to. He didn’t cough up any water. He was just confused what was going on. Last thing he remembered was swimming underwater and knowing he needed to go up for air. He had fainted before he could come up for air.

He was completely fine and responding to everything normally. After consulting a relative who works in the ER, we determined we didn’t need to take him in. But were still very concerned wondering why this happened. Needless to say, I slept right next to him that night!

We let his older sisters know what happened. They were also shaken up by the close call. Our oldest daughter started looking up what could have caused Reagan to faint. She found information about your organization. After reading the information, it was very obvious that Reagan’s situation fit the Shallow Water Blackout description exactly.

We were SO FORTUNATE. Clayton was a hero that day for how quickly he reacted. We had a lot of discussions that night and the next day about the importance of Never play-drowning. Swimming with a buddy. Keeping an eye on your friends. CPR techniques and many other things.

I thank God every day that we have our boy and things did not turn out tragically as easy as they could have. I feel compelled to somehow warn other families.  Thank you so much for your organization and efforts to raise awareness. Living in SW Florida (Cape Coral, FL), we have a lot of interaction with pools and water. Hopefully we can help raise awareness also."

Announcing SWBP's Ambassador Program

Shallow Water Blackout Prevention is pleased to announce the kick-off of its new Ambassador Program. This Program is designed for volunteers who have a desire to help raise awareness about Shallow Water Blackout and our organization around the country. We provide the materials for them to distribute within their community and serve as a resource to answer any questions raised by those with whom they connect. If you would like to learn more about becoming an Ambassador, please contact us at: [email protected]

Meet Our First Ambassador:

Benjy Jackson

Benjy lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and will turn sixteen in September. During a meeting with Benjy and his parents and grandparents, who were deeply involved in attempting to revive our Executive Director’s son after a Shallow Water Blackout, he asked if he could become involved with our cause. This became the impetus for creating the Ambassador Program. As part of his Community Service requirement for High School graduation Benjy will be distributing our informational / educational materials to local SCUBA and Dive Shops and other water-related entities within his community. He will also be making his contacts aware of our organization. Raising awareness about SWB will be his mission. Fort Lauderdale, located in Broward county ranks number one in the US for unintentional drownings where SWB is often associated.

Benjy enjoys fishing with his father, spending the summers with his grandparents in the Bahamas and boating; he received his Boaters License when he was fourteen. He loves music, plays the drums and according to his mother he just cannot get enough of being outside. We look forward to working with Benjy.

Shallow Water Blackout Prevention Selected as a Campaign Safety Leader (CSL) Partner by Pool Safely

To improve pool and spa safety, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) launched Pool Safely: Simple Steps to Save Lives, a national public education campaign to reduce childhood drownings, submersion injuries and entrapments.

The campaign is a call-to-action for consumers and industry to adopt proven water safety steps and join a national conversation about pool and spa safety by sharing best practices and other life-saving information.

Pool Safely has more than 1,000 partners nationwide that help share their water safety message. This diverse group provides information and resources to expand the reach of the campaign. Our organization is the first to focus on raising awareness about and the prevention of Shallow Water Blackout.

For more information about Pool Safely visit: www.poolsafely.gov

 

 

Please Visit Shallow Water Blackout Prevention’s Exhibitor’s Booth At The National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s 2017 Educational Conference.

Shallow Water Blackout Prevention is proud to be a participant in this year’s NDPA Educational Conference.  Please stop by our booth to learn more about our organization and what we are doing do eliminate the potential and tragic results of Shallow Water Blackout.  We will have information about what causes it and how it can be prevented along with educational materials and sample signage for pools that we make available to raise awareness and increase its prevention.

In addition to our being an Exhibitor the Vice Chairman of our Board, Dr. Tom Griffiths, President and Founder of the Aquatic Safety Research Group, and his daughter, Rachel, will be conducting a Breakout Session on Wednesday, April 12 from 9:35 AM to 10:20 AM.  The title of their session is: Heroes on Deck.  This presentation will help parents and aquatic professionals develop themselves and young lifeguards into heroes through more immediate action in situations when others need help.  Participants will learn to demonstrate heroism in everyday life.

We look forward to seeing you during this very important and informative Conference.  

New Research Shows Hyperventilation Not Necessary for SWB to Occur

On March 22, 2017, The Inertia published an article detailing new research that indicates hyperventilation is NOT necessary for SWB to occur.  You can read this informative article here.

The aquatics experts here at Shallow Water Blackout Prevention are very pleased to learn this (much needed) research is taking place.  Dr. Rhonda Milner, Founder and Chairman of SWBP, commented on the article, saying this:

Thank you, Phil for a great and enlightening article. Thank you Dr. Merritt for your research at VitalityPro. This explains why we at Shallow Water Blackout Prevention have said all along, blackouts do and can occur without hyperventilation.

This means that O2 depletion is as important as abnormally lowering CO2 levels with hyperventilation leading to SWB. That is why multiple, repetitive breath-holding laps are so dangerous. O2 levels can get so depleted, when not allowed a chance to be fully restored, that a person blacks out before they have CO2 levels high enough to signal them to breathe.

We have also found that a determined person can ignore his urge to breathe finding the urge to breathe temporarily subsiding. I would love to see research on the explanation and physiology of the observation. I suspect endorphins are released giving a feeling of euphoria. This all supports why multiple, repetitive, competitive breath-holding laps with hyperventilation are a lethal combination. Hence, the two Navy SEALs that died a few years ago in the base pool in Norfolk, VA while competing against each other doing breath-holding laps.

It looks like the pulmonary training program at VitalityPro is aerobically based which we have supported as how to best build and strengthen lung capacity with wind sprints, and so on. Hypoxic training underwater anaerobically is dangerous and can lead to blackout without warning. And, it certainly should never be performed without close supervision. As stated earlier, this research is so important because it proves that SWB is not only caused from hyperventilation, but from O2 depletion and inadequate restoration of O2 levels. It also gives further explanation for the cause of surface blackouts when free diving, besides redistribution of blood flow secondary to pulmonary pressure gradient changes.

I am so glad VitalityPro is doing this needed research on the physiology and causes of SWB. This is what we have so needed. Kudos to all involved at VitalityPro. Thank you, Dr. Frank Merritt for your research and as founder of VitalityPro, Brandon Rager as director of VitalityPro, and Phil White at theinertia.com for this article. We would love to add this article to our website and stay in touch with VitalityPro and their active research. Also, great chart illustration!

Thank you!
Rhonda Milner, MD
Founder and Chairman, Shallow Water Blackout Prevention

First Annual South Florida Water Safety Symposium

On March 3, 2017, Shallow Water Blackout Prevention made a presentation and conducted a Breakout Session at the First Annual Water Safety Symposium, which was held at the Sunrise Civic Center in Sunrise, Florida.  The Florida Department of Health in Broward County, Children’s Services Council, YMCA of South Florida, Swim Central, Water Smart Palm Beach, YMCA of Palm Beach County and Miami Dade Drowning Coalition collaborated with this event to bridge the gap between 3 counties and help educate the attendees of the crippling affects drowning has on their entire community.  Broward County and Miami-Dade County rank number 1 and number 2 respectively for drownings in the U.S.

The event was designed for aquatics professionals, health-care professionals, first responders and the public at-large.  Main Speakers and Breakout Session Presenters included: Edna Tello, M.D. FAAP, Robert J. Bertone, Public Education Officer, Coral Springs Fire Department, Jay Sanford, Manager, Broward County SWIM Central Program, Captain Todd Lutes, Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Air Station Miami, Estela Rabin, M.D., FAAP, James Walker, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Child Protective Investigations Section, James S. O’Connor, Aquatic Safety Coordinator, Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, Veronica Castro, MSW, LCSW, Clinical Support Specialist at Atlantic University, and Dean E. Haller, Executive Director, Shallow Water Blackout Prevention.

Over three hundred and fifty people from southern Florida attended the event and raising awareness and educating everyone about Shallow Water Blackout, its causes and prevention was front and center during the entire Symposium.

Children and Shallow Water Blackout

It’s Not Just About Elite Swimmers, Freedivers and People Who Spearfish.  Children Are Equally Susceptible to Shallow Water Blackout Too!

According to the World Health Organization there are over 375,000 drownings annually and it is the third leading cause of all unintentional deaths worldwide. Even though awareness about SWB is increasing, but slowly, experts believe that it remains the cause of more than 50% of all unintentional drownings worldwide and regrettably children are among its many victims. One in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. The Centers for Disease Control reports that for every child who dies from drowning in the U.S., another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.  Most drownings occur is private or public pools.

SWB occurs when the swimmer prolongs their breath holds underwater preceded by hyperventilating, which is the rapid and successive in-take of deep breaths and the expulsion of the air taken in. This is considered intentional hyperventilation and it is usually practiced for a minute or more.  Excessive physical activity such as playing tag or just running around in the yard or playground immediately prior to swimming can have the same physiological effect on the body. This is considered unintentional hyperventilation.

Unless a SWB victim’s pre-swimming activities are known it is almost impossible to assign SWB as the cause; therefore, related drowning victims are simply labeled as accidental.  Although it can happen at any depth many SWB victims drown in water less than 15 feet deep, hence the name.

How Can SWB be prevented:

  • Always monitor a child’s pre-swimming activities and require them to rest before swimming if they have been over-exerting themselves physically.

  • Never let children swim unattended or alone.

  • Never permit them to intentionally hyperventilate when they are swimming.

  • Never permit them to prolong their breath-holds or play breath-holding games when they are swimming.

    Examples:
    • Challenging each other to see who can stay under water the longest or trying to do so themselves.

    • Challenging each other or themselves to swim the most laps underwater.

Remember, Shallow Water Blackout is preventable and we strongly encourage all parents to follow the above guidelines.  

Study of Shallow Water Blackout Prevention Policies at 73 Pools Garners Negative Results

A Study Conducted by The Redwoods Group.

 

During the summer of 2016 The Redwood’s team designed a study of aquatic safety procedures to identify any potential gaps in Shallow Water Blackout (SWB) prevention practices and rule enforcement. The study spanned 73 YMCA associations in 17 states and the District of Columbia. At each observation, the team’s procedures included documentation across four categories:

                          

  • Pool environment
  • Lifeguard behaviour
  • SWB simulation
  • Staff interviews

 

The study found SWB pool signage was inconsistent and sometimes nonexistent. Only 51.8% of pools displayed a sign related to prolonged breath holding. Of the pools that had signs, only 59.6% of the signs were both unobstructed and differentiated from their surroundings.

This study also revealed that even when SWB-related rules may be known, they may not be enforced consistently, if at all. 

Though 31.2% of lifeguards interviewed showed awareness of SWB-related rules, only 7.5% enforced those rules.

This study revealed meaningful gaps in the awareness and enforcement of Shallow Water Blackout prevention procedures in YMCA pools. To close the Awareness Gap and Action Gap, YMCAs should clarify and promote rules regarding Shallow Water Blackout and equip lifeguards with tools to simplify and maximize enforcement.

For more details on this study click here.

What precautions do your local aquatics managers take to prevent SWB from happening in their pool?  Please reach out and let us know. Send photos, or request a free poster or two to give to your pool manager. We need your help to prevent more senseless tragedies. Email [email protected] for more information on how you can help.