The Florida beaches may soon become a safer place to swim thanks to a 13-year-old’s ingenuity to make a device that would prevent drowning.
After Kaial Hajik, a Boy Scout and aspiring Air Force cadet, noticed that several people had drowned in the Gulf of Mexico, he worked with his father to create an emergency kit called the “LifeBoKx”.
“It’s very simple… but it’s also very important in saving someone’s life,” Kaial said in an interview with CNN affiliate WJHG.
The LifeBoKx is a kit that contains basic lifesaving equipment and educational material to be positioned along Panama Beach’s shoreline.
The kit includes two life vests, a preserver, and visual aids including the “Drowning Chain of Survival,” which is a pamphlet from the International Life Saving Federation that shows how to respond safely to a drowning.
Kaial and his father say they were inspired to create the LifeBoKx after hearing about the 2019 drowning of Richard Stacey Redman. Redman drowned at Panama City Beach after he went into the ocean to try and save a drowning child.
“What we saw is that it’s not just people drowning. It’s actually the pursuers — working to help save these people — that are the ones that are perishing,” Joe Hajik, Kaial’s father, told CNN.
Drownings have increased in the area over the years, with ten in 2018, and 12 in 2019. Panama City Beach has witnessed eight confirmed drownings so far this year, CBS Miami reported.
The city implemented new protocols at the beginning of the year, including the creation of a Beach Safety Unit and expanded lifeguard programs and emergency response along the beaches.
Kaial and Joe Hajik introduced the LifeBoKx to the Beach Safety Unit director, Will Spivey, who praised the 13-year-old for his ingenuity.
“Our main sentiment is that we just thought it was really exceptional — that a young man saw a need or problem in his community and tried to take initiative and stand up and do something proactive about it,” Spivey said.
Spivey and his team offered suggestions and improvements to the LifeBoKx concept, and while it does not replace traditional lifeguards and trained first responders, the kit provides useful tools for the average layman to help expedite response in an emergency.
Kaial and Joe Hajik also plan to present their LifeBoKx concept to other groups, including the city council.