New app aims to sink child drowning risk

Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among kids four and younger, and the second leading cause for children under the age of 15.

But new, life-saving technology could make the difference in the pool or at the beach, CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports.

According to the CDC, every year approximately 800 children drown. That's the number of students on 11 full school buses.

Now, in another addition to the child protection app saga, one father invented a wearable sensor designed to send alerts to your smart phone or tablet. It's an idea he hopes will reduce the risk of drowning.

Drowning is very difficult to detect. It's not like what you see in Hollywood. It's quiet, it can take as little as 20 seconds, there's usually very little noise and the child could look like they are swimming underwater or playing.

"You don't want to think that on your watch that something could happen to your child and everything like that," said Gina Criscitiello.

Criscitiello took her eyes off her 3-year-old daughter at the family pool just long enough for her to slip underwater.

"I just happened to look over at the time, and my sister in law was pulling her up, thank god, and it was the most scariest thing of my life," she said.

Dave Cutler saw just how quickly a child can disappear from sight, when a 9-year-old boy nearly drowned in their neighborhood lake, suffering neurological damage

"That could've been my daughter, and it was someone's son."

In response, Cutler created the iSwimband: the first wearable device to detect potential drownings.


It is worn as a headband by swimmers or wristband by anyone who should not be in the water.

The sensor detects when it has been submerged too long and sounds an alarm on your smart phone or iPad.

"For non-swimmers it's almost instantaneous. It's three seconds," Cutler said. "On the headband you can set it the minimum time is 20 seconds of straight submersion."

Cutler says adults can use the headband as well.

"Or people with disabilities...elderly," he said.

Cutler says he will view his product as a success once it becomes a standard safety measure.

"When it becomes common place where it's no different than wearing a seat belt, wearing a bike helmet and it's not something new but something typical of swimming," he said.

Cutler also hopes this new technology will serve as another level of protection for parents, but warns it shouldn't be used as a replacement for vigilant supervision.

"We hope our product will save lives," Cutler said, "but the only true thing that can save a life is another person retrieving that victim from the water."

The band has a 100 foot radius and costs $99.