Preventing Drownings from Shallow Water Blackout

By Clarion Safety Systems | 25th Aug 2016

“No lifeguard on duty.” “Watch your children.” “No diving.” “Wear life jackets.” You may be aware of these important pool safety messages.

But there’s another core message that’s often not as familiar to swimmers: “no long breath holding.”

It’s not uncommon for amateur, professional and military swimmers to practice holding their breath underwater for extended periods of time as part of their training. But doing so could result in tragedy. Swimmers, divers, spear-fishing enthusiasts – they’re all at risk and, tragically, most of them are completely unaware of the danger of shallow water blackout.

What exactly is it? Shallow water blackout, which experts believe to be a leading cause of swimming-related drowning, occurs when a person passes out without warning while underwater, after extreme, prolonged breath holding preceded by hyperventilation. It is a sudden, silent killer; parents and lifeguards supervising pools often fail to detect any danger or crisis before it is too late.

Pool Safety Sign   Pool Safety Visual

    Clarion’s signs are intended to work together to explain the dangers of shallow water blackout and then reinforce the message.  Sign designs ©Clarion Safety Systems. All rights reserved.

Shallow water blackout most often occurs because of a lack of knowledge of the dangers of breath holding under water. An important step towards raising awareness is Clarion’s “No Long Breath Holding” signage as part of your pool safety sign system, developed by leading experts in safety standards, signage and aquatics, including our CEO, Geoffrey Peckham, and renowned aquatics safety expert, Dr. Tom Griffiths. Our system utilizes the “No Long Breath Holding” message on stand-alone signs and it can be incorporated into ANSI Z535-formatted signs, including multi-hazard signs that combine the most important pool safety messages.

To learn more, visit Clarion’s water safety Learning Center or view our short video, “Drowning Prevention: Shallow Water Blackout.”