EDITORIAL TUESDAY 02.12.08.
There is no greater tragedy for any family than the loss of a child. No parent who has survived such a thing is ever the same again. While sometimes there is simply nothing that might have been done to change things, it is deeply sad to know that in so many cases the tragedy might have been avoided. Time after time we hear about young children who have drowned in backyard swimming pools. In the past week three have died, prompting calls for new measures to improve pool safety.
While pool fences have been compulsory for more than a decade, there are still many older pools which were exempted from the rules, and many more which are simply not compliant. There are now calls to require older pools to be made compliant when properties are bought and sold, along with suggestions of compulsory safety inspections to be carried out at regular intervals. Both these suggestions are reasonable and could help to make a difference, but of themselves are not enough.
There is also a call for pool owners to learn resuscitation techniques. It is astounding to know that despite the number of pools in the community, only about 2% of adults take basic first aid courses each year. One suggestion is that all pool owners should be licenced, requiring a first aid certificate in order to qualify. Another suggestion is to include CPR lessons in ante-natal classes. Either way, knowledge of CPR can be crucial in saving a child’s life, and although you might think that would be enough to motivate more people to learn, it might well be a good idea to make it compulsory in some way.
Of course, no amount of legislation or regulation will abolish stupidity. There will always be someone who simply doesn’t grasp the importance of simple and effective safety measures. Regardless of how high the fence around the pool, or of how many first aid courses parents might take, some kids will always find a way to get themselves into trouble. And there is one factor which must not be overlooked. Parental supervision.
Even with all the safety measures parents can imagine and all the laws that legislators can dream up, things can still go terribly wrong in a frightening short space of time. By all means, let’s look at the regulations to see if they can be made more effective, but in the end the most effective safety measure of all is to make sure children are properly supervised. When it comes to swimming pool safety there is no substitute for supervision.