Conquer your fear of the water with Flotila

This alarming statistic prompted Shaji K S to design Flotila, a personal buoyancy device.
After much research and many experiments, Flotila was born. It allowed people, even children, to swim without fear.
After much research and many experiments, Flotila was born. It allowed people, even children, to swim without fear.

KOCHI: Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional fatalities in the world. According to the World Health Organisation, over 80,000 people drown annually.

This alarming statistic prompted Shaji K S to design Flotila, a personal buoyancy device. His engagement with rescue missions as part of Ideal Relief Wing, an NGO working in rescue, relief and rehabilitation, also revealed to him the limitations of a life jacket.

“Life jackets are made of polyfoam sponge which shrinks after prolonged contact with water. Also, people are hesitant to use them as the ones available in the market are either inefficient or uncomfortable during swims,” Shaji tells TNIE.

That’s not all. Most cases of drowning are partly due to internal fears. “Your ordinary life jacket does not address the emotional aspect of the situation,” he adds.

So, 10 years ago, Shaji set out to find a solution to this dilemma and save lives. He weaved in and out of manufacturing units and held numerous discussions with experts on bags and bag-making to bring his product to life. During this journey, he learned two things - what the basic structure of the device would be (capsule) and what material to use (high-density polyethene cylinders).

After much research and many experiments, Flotila was born. It allowed people, even children, to swim without fear. “Its mechanism is very straightforward,” says Shaji, who hails from Muvattupuzha. “The device must displace enough water and provide enough buoyant force to help support the full body to float on water. Flotila does this quite well. Also, it’s lightweight and does not restrict the individual’s movement on the water,” he adds.

Today, Flotila is used widely by individuals and organisations involved in water-related activities, swimming practitioners and clubs, and disaster management teams. The device has proven to be effective in preventing drowning incidents as well.

During the 2018 floods, the state government purchased 1,200 Flotila devices for the rescue operations conducted by the Indian Navy. Kerala fisheries department, too, had distributed the device to their fishermen. “The device, when used with the help of the trainer will be helpful to the trainees to swim without fear and to avoid drowning incidents. Further, the equipment can be used in drowning rescue operations also,” states a letter of recognition by the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority.

“It can also be used for tourism such as in aqua parks, water sports, and adventure enthusiasts. Many people, who know swimming, cannot always swim, due to eddy currents, physical discomfort, fear of drowning, etc…Floatila, will help in such situations,” claims Shaji.

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