In the Toulouse region (Haute-Garonne), which has many private swimming pools, accidental drowning has become a scourge on the arrival of fine weather, despite the security systems. Of the 1,480 drownings recorded in 2021 in France, 22% concerned children under the age of six, often in private swimming pools.
To avoid these tragedies for children who do not yet know how to swim, the start-up Floatee, founded in November 2021 by two engineers who graduated from Insa in Toulouse, has developed an innovative anti-drowning t-shirt certified to European standards.
« Children wear armbands or life jackets but only in the water and it is often when they take them off, out of the water, that accidents occur, despite parental supervision, explains Thibaut Choulet, co-founder by Floatee. In the summer of 2021, my partner Philippe Rouvier witnessed a drowning by the sea and we really got down to finding a solution, with an easy-to-wear garment that children can wear all day. It took us a year of research and development and almost 50 prototypes to obtain a patented t-shirt for children from 18 months to six years old”.
A system that can grow with the age of the child
If it seems normal in appearance, the start-up’s t-shirt turns into a life jacket in three seconds when the child falls into the water. Inside hide a discreet inflatable lung and a soluble trigger, which pierces a cylinder of CO2 in contact with water, thus causing the inflation of the T-shirt. “When the child falls into the water and the T-shirt inflates, there is then a rotation on the back, to put his respiratory tract out of the water, details Thibaut Choulet. There is no embarrassment for the child to wear the T-shirt which is designed not to be triggered during water games at the edge of the swimming pool”.
After successfully testing the device this summer on three children, the two Toulouse entrepreneurs launched a presales campaign on Ulule until mid-December. The inflatable lung is separable from the T-shirt in order to be able to accompany the growth of the child. Delivery of the ordered anti-drowning t-shirts is scheduled for the spring and the company hopes to market them in sports stores.