Safety Wearables – Article 1

As I have indicated in some of my previous articles, technological innovation is another way to address the drowning epidemic. My hats off to the innovators who are helping us to get where swimming and water sports are safe and enjoyable at the same.

In order to be safe, we will need to continue to recognize: (i) swimming (unlike walking and running) is not our natural ability, it is learned; (ii) human body is not as adapt at maneuvering in water as it’s on the land; (iii) water environments are typically ‘harsher’ – lower temperature, water current, etc.; (iv) if faced with an unintended event, one can be more easily rescued while on land than in water.

As swimmers, we all agree – a typical safety swimwear (life vests, inflated armbands, etc.) is not really desirable by a swimmer.  The next best option is to have easy access to something that can be inflated on-demand and quickly.  Kingii, a device released in 2015, is one such option.

Kingii is a relatively lightweight and compact wristband.  This device appears to be relatively less of a hindrance to the swimmer, it is easy to activate, and it can be used for wide variety of water activities.

Kingii primarily consists of balloon-like float and a replaceable CO2 cartridge enclosed in a casing.  Kingii is activated by puncturing a CO2 cartridge; and CO2 in turn inflates the float. The inflated Kingii provides enough buoyancy to bring the swimmer to the surface.  For additional safety, a well-positioned compass is embedded in the wristband and a whistle is attached to it.

Like a number of things in life, one size does not always fit all.  Make an assessment of what work best for you and understand the intended purpose of the device and its strength and the limitations before you use any device.  (i) Kingii may work very well for the adults, but may not be appropriate for a younger child; (ii) the person needs to be conscious in order to deploy the device; (iii) Kingii is very efficient in pulling you up to the surface and keeping you afloat, but it will not get you to the shore.   As a safety advice, Kingii calls out – it should only be worn by experienced swimmers, this is not a replacement for a personal floatation device like life vest, and it does not eliminate the risk of drowning.

Overall, Kingii is very elegantly designed and it definitely can act as a confidence booster.

For those thinking about investing in this device, a few things to consider:

  • In addition to the 2 extra CO2 cartridges available in the package, I would recommend getting extra cartridges upfront.
  • Do a few practice swim rounds with the device tied to your wrist to adapt to it
  • Practice deploying under different water conditions (swimming pools, lakes, ocean, etc.).
  • Regular test checks to ensure the device being always deployable.

Kingii is an interesting name for a safety flotation device. Any guesses on the name?

– Meghna Sil


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