Church Mutual’s Swimmer Safety Program uses PDC Wristbands to Help Save Lives

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Taking Preventative Action

Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is also one of the most preventable, when close supervision measures are put into place. Church Mutual, the nation’s leading insurer of religious organizations, became concerned when it learned these statistics, as many of its clients are churches and summer camps where swimming is a popular activity. The insurer knew it had to act fast to keep the children under its clients’ care safe from the risk of drowning. As a result, Church Mutual developed a program that identifies and classifies children participating in aquatic activities.

The CDC also states that two of the most influential factors in drowning cases include lack of swimming ability and lack of close supervision. Church Mutual realized the primary key to water safety is proper surveillance, and that a large part of a lifeguard’s responsibility was to learn the swimming ability and strength of each child before they entered the water. In order to help its clients successfully measure each child’s capabilities, it started the Swimmer Safety Program.

Transforming Wristbands into Lifesavers

Church Mutual contacted its local American Red Cross, told them about its idea for the Swimmer Safety Program, and was provided with water safety training and instructions on how to classify various swimming levels. Afterwards, Church Mutual developed a color-coding system to categorize children by swimming ability and then consulted with PDC, a leader in identification solutions, to create a procedure for visually identifying the swimmers. PDC recommended using its brightly colored vinyl wristbands, which are water-resistant, nontransferable, and comfortable for extended wear.

In 2006, Church Mutual put its clever idea into motion and officially launched the Swimmer Safety Program. The full program kit includes laminated swimmer safety guidelines, swimmer evaluation forms, and red, yellow and green vinyl wristbands from PDC. The program helps improve safety by aiding lifeguards in visually identifying children to ensure they stay within the permitted areas of the pool. “The bright colors show up very well under water, which helps lifeguards easily spot inexperienced swimmers who have wandered into the deep end of the pool,” said Steve Chartier, Risk Control Supervisor for Church Mutual. “Most camps use the wristbands for a minimum of one week, and the bands do not fall off unless removed with a pair of scissors.”

Providing Peace of Mind for Clients and Parents

A single incident of a near-drowning or a drowning fatality can severely tarnish the reputation of an organization, and deter parents and caregivers from leaving their child under the supervision of a facility’s lifeguards. When a camp or church incorporates the Swimmer Safety Program, it demonstrates a proactive approach to invest in the safety of the children under its care. This provides peace of mind to parents, and places the camp in a positive light in the public eye. PDC’s durable and long-lasting vinyl wristbands feature one-time locking snaps so the bands cannot be removed unless cut with a pair of scissors. The company’s dependable products add another level of security to the Swimmer Safety Program, providing enhanced credibility to Church Mutual.

Advertising on Millions of Wrists

Since the Swimmer Safety Program began, Church Mutual has donated more than 2.5 million wristbands to thousands of organizations! PDC’s vinyl wristbands have a custom imprint of the Church Mutual logo, so the camps and churches that use them have a constant visible reminder of its insurer. Many children continue to wear the wristbands long after their visit, and are seen by parents, teachers and other adults, offering a wide-reaching branding opportunity for Church Mutual.

The imprinted logo also helps increase business by advertising to non-customers. “Our former president recently attended a convention where one of the key-note speakers thanked him for the Swimmer Safety Program. His daughter had attended a camp and came home wearing one of the wristbands with our logo,” Chartier said. “He was very impressed by the program and praised us for providing the wristbands free of charge to customers and noncustomers alike.”

Clients Expand the Program for Other Safety Uses

While the program was initially established for swimming pools, some of Church Mutual’s clients now use the color-coded wristband system to help identify children at waterparks and other activities such as horseback riding trips. “Our clients have taken their own innovative approach on the program. For camps that take kids horseback riding, leaders give new riders a red wristband, intermediate riders yellow, and a green wristband for kids with more experience,” Chartier said. “This helps match up horse and rider as well as keep the children safe.”

Church Mutual researched other wristband companies but continues to purchase from PDC because the wristbands are dependable, the service is unmatched, and the customer feedback has been outstanding, according to Chartier.

“When it comes to saving lives, quality cannot be compromised. I can’t say enough about the positive relationship I’ve built with my sales rep at PDC. We’re a loyal customer primarily because of the product quality, but also because of PDC’s knowledgeable staff and willingness to help whenever we have questions or concerns,” Chartier said.

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