Letter in today’s Herald: backyard pools are a safety hazard

By | July 20, 2010

In a recent tragedy, twin toddlers drowned in their family’s backyard in-ground pool.

Two articles in a row in the Boston Herald mentioned that the authorities were investigating how the twins drowned despite the fact that the pool had a cover.

There seems to be a widespread misconception, which the Herald articles exacerbate, that pool covers are a safety device. In my letter in today’s Herald, I tried to set the record straight:

Safety hazard

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A pool cover is not a safety device; it is intended to keep the pool clean, not prevent drownings. In fact, pool covers make pools less safe for children (“Police to study security tape in tots’ drowning,” July 19).

My heart goes out to the parents, but it disturbs me to see officials claiming they did everything right. If that had been the case, then it would have been impossible for the children to access the pool unsupervised. There is a reason why many insurance companies refuse to issue policies to homes with pools.

– Jonathan Kamens, Brighton

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3 thoughts on “Letter in today’s Herald: backyard pools are a safety hazard

  1. jik Post author

    I don’t know what “safety gate” means in this context, but neither the Globe nor the Herald said anything about that. An article about it in the Daily Mail in the UK claimed that the toddlers managed to open a gate to get to the pool. To my mind, that’s not a “freak accident”; that’s parents with small children who haven’t taken the necessary to steps to keep their children away from an attractive nuisance.

    To my mind, a pool “safety gate” isn’t adequate in a house with toddlers unless (a) a key or combination is required to open it, (b) the mechanism for opening it is well out of the reach of small children, and (c) an alarm sounds every time it is unlocked for anything more than 10 or 15 seconds.

    These tragedies happen because some people with swimming pools in their back yards apparently don’t understand just how dangerous they are to children and to just what lengths those same children will go to get to them.

    Having a pool without adequate safeguards is just as bad as having a gun without adequate safeguards.

  2. Rebecca

    they also had safety gates, and I believe a motion detector ( I heard that on the news). Sometimes, freak accidents happen, no matter what we do to safeguard our families.

  3. Wouter

    You are absolutely right. As owner of an in-ground pool and parent of a 4-year old, I strongly believe the only option is to make absolutely sure kids can’t get to the pool without supervision, and to instill iron discipline around the pool when supervised. Covers should never be used as safety device (and I don’t know any manufacturer which markets them as such). Besides, in this case, the cover was not on the pool, which makes it a moot point anyway.


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