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Wibit takes a lead on open water inflatables

Wibit takes a lead on open water inflatables
February 15, 2011

With a growth in the popularity of aquatic amusement inflatables for use in open water, leading German manufacturer Wibit Sports has been highlighting the importance of the European safety Standard, EN 15649: Floating leisure articles for use on and in the water.

When Wibit began exporting their products to the USA, the company was alarmed to find that the USA had not standard for aquatic inflatables.

As Wibit Chief Executive Robert Cirjak explains "we could not believe that no national pool standard existed for pool inflatables."

Even more surprising was Wibitâs findings that most aquatic professionals in the USA were unaware of the alarmingly high drowning numbers in their country - being the second leading cause of death (after motor vehicle crashes).

By contrast Europe has a state of the art safety standard for aquatic inflatables, recognised by over 27 countries.

As Romann Rademacher, Vice Chairman of the European Community Committee on safety for inflatables used on water explains "the standard took four years to create and is what aquatic professionals (were) looking for when choosing and operating an inflatable."

The EN 15649 Standard specifies safety requirements and test methods related to materials, safety and performance that can easily be adopted by aquatic facilities in the USA, and other parts of the world.

It also clearly defines areas for operation such as required water depth, entrapment hazards, intended users and mandatory warning label requirements for aquatic inflatables.

As Rademacher adds "(for example) we noticed that many of the 'constant air running tracks' commonly used in the US were installed right on pools edge and yet the EN 15649 Standard states no inflatable should be with a 10' distance of the pools edge. The intention is to avoid the user falling or even jumping from the product and colliding with the pool's edge."

Over the last year, Wibit has been in discussion with US-based Safe Wise Consulting to develop operating guidelines based on the European standards that will help ensure safe use of inflatables.

Safe Wise Chief Executive Michael Gurtler explains "Safe-Wise is excited to work on this project that will interpret some of the technical information in EN 15649. Our goal ... is to create a series of operating guidelines that our clients (and others) can use to enhance their safety practices with these devices."

In this region, Matt Griffiths, National Manager - Aquatic Industry Services for the Royal Life Saving Society - Australia, explains "EN 15649 is a useful resource and manufacturers and operators would benefit from an awareness of its contents.

"This document may contribute to the development of policies and procedures for the use of inflatable but should not be the sole source of information. (However), manufacturers and operators should also be aware that EN 15649 is a European Standard and therefore some information may not accurately reflect Australian requirements, (so) it should be used as a guide only until such time as Australia develops or adopts its own Standard.

"I'd recommend anyone considering using or purchasing an inflatable gather as much information as possible from as many sources as possible to inform their decisions."

EN 15649 can be downloaded from the European Standardisation office website.

Wibit Sports are represented in Australia by Hydrocare Pool Services Pty Ltd who can be reached on 02 9604 8396, E:


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