What does a lizard and water safety have in common?
Well one of this summer’s must-have travel gadgets for safety was inspired by a Chlamydosaurus kingii — a lizard with a frilled neck that expands when the lizard feels it’s in danger — and the product’s maker hopes to get people not only talking about water safety, but taking measures to lessen the chance of accidental drowning too.
Kingii, which is the world’s smallest inflatable flotation device on the market, was started as a crowdfunding campaign last summer and quickly became a must-have item for many travelers and water enthusiasts alike. When the idea of Kingii hit the IndieGoGo website in June of 2015, the new company had a goal of raising $65,000 for production costs. By August of that same summer, Kingii had raised $636,164, over shooting their goal by just around 879 percent.
Clearly a product that a lot of people are interested in.
The wrist-watch-like product allows you to strap a personal flotation device, or PFD, right to your person and puts life-saving power at your finger tips. If a wearer finds themselves in a drowning situation while in the water, a quick pull on the lever of the Kingii will fire off a CO2 cartridge, inflating a balloon that can be used as a flotation device to keep a person, 275 pounds or less, afloat for up to 48 hours.
Today, nearly a year after their campaign began on the internet, Kingii Director of Sales and Marketing Crystal Bullard tells me that the company has seen a tremendous reaction from the public.
“The response has been great,” Bullard said. “[Kingii] is really resonating with people. Our big push is that we want to see people safe on the water. We want to make sure that water safety is brought into more of the limelight. We talk about wearing helmets if you ride a bike or wearing a seat belt if you are in the car, but other than casual reminders like, ‘oh, be safe out there,’ people don’t think of having that additional safety device with them when they are out swimming or doing other activities.”
On a global scale, there are about 372,000 deaths associated with drowning each year, with over half of the deaths taking the lives of people 25 years or younger. Here in the United States, between the years of 2005 and 2014, there were an average of 3,536 deaths per year — roughly 10 deaths per day — that were attributed to non-boating related drownings.
While the death toll from drowning remains only two thirds that of malnutrition and slightly over half of that of malaria, there really is no widespread campaign to bring awareness to this, in most cases, preventable problem.
In boating accidents alone, studies have found that nine out of 10 drownings occur on inland waters, most within a few feet of safety on boats or vessels that are under 20-feet long. A scary statistic that shows how easily an accident can happen when you least expect it, even close to home. The same studies show that the use of a personal flotation device reduces the chance of death due to drowning by half.
So the question is, why are so many people NOT wearing a PFD when taking part in boating or other watersports?
While price could possibly be an issue, with some of the more advanced PFDs costing nearly $200, there are still many affordable options when it comes to life preservers. I don’t think this is the issue. On a broader scale, when you look at the age group of people that are generally affected by drowning — age 25 and under — it becomes more clear. They are simply not cool enough.
With so many people worried about fitting in and looking cool today, it’s no wonder why they forgo wearing a big or bulky life jacket. It can limit your range of motion, get in the way of your suntan and sometimes make you look just plain dorky. While these may seem like minor issues to most, to a teenager or young adult, they are a BIG deal.
Kingii slices through all of these excuses, from price to bulkiness and suntans to looking cool. At a starting price of just $89.99, or $169.99 for two (a $10 savings), Kingii is both affordable and reusable. All you need to do to re-use the Kingii is deflate it, install a new CO2 cartridge ($14.99 for two) and you are good to go. Plus, with the small and slim design of the product that goes around your wrist, there is no reason why it would be considered too bulky. Weighing in at only 168 grams, or .37 pounds, the Kingii is lightweight and should be considered very cool.
While the people at Kingii still recommend you wear a PFD for optimum safety, their wrist-wrapping product is a step in the right direction for water safety. In the eyes of Kingii staff, the more people that are willing to wear something to keep themselves safe on the water, the better.
“There are a lot of times were people find themselves in situations where any additional buoyancy would help them,” Bullard said. “We are big advocates of wearing a swim or safety vest when you are out boating or doing other water activities. Unfortunately, there are lots of times where there is no requirement or someone that may not think that they need a life vest. Kingii is something that’s small, lightweight and can potentially be there if they need it.”
While drowning is one of the 10 leading causes of death for people between the ages of 1 and 24 around the world, it is the number one cause of death among the 5 to 14-year-old age group. Plus, with two out of every 10 drowning deaths being children under 14 years of age, it’s clear that accidental drowning is a serious risk for all children.
The Kingii website states that the product is designed for people aged 16 and up, mostly because of sizing, but Bullard was quick to point out that although there may not be definite plans to create a children’s version of the lifesaving device just yet, the engineers at Kingii are always looking for ideas to advance the product and help keep people safe from the dangers of drowning.
“Our team is always looking for ways that we can develop additional products that would provide safety on the water,” she said. “We get a lot of feedback from our customers and sometimes they give us ideas that we may have never thought of. We have a lot of stuff in the works too, and we are definitely always looking for ways to keep people safe.”
To learn more about Kingii, visit their website at www.Kingii.com or check them out on social media.
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