Accidents and other unforeseen happenings are not the first thing on your mind when planning a holiday but nagging doubts often linger particularly when you have young children.
Pool safety is top of most parents' list and after looking at figures published by ROSPA on child drownings when on holiday, deservedly so. In France the problem has been tackled with swingeing penalties for pool owner's who do not comply with the law to make all pools secure for young children.
The fine for owners who do not comply is 45,000€ for private pools and up to 225,000€ for shared pools. There are suggestions that these same laws will be adopted by other countries including Spain but let us be under no illusions, simply complying with the law doesn't guarantee safety.
There are five main types of protection: rigid pool shelters, covers, electronic perimeter alarms, immersion alarms, and fencing. Covers create work putting them on and off and tend to be left off. Perimeter alarms give only marginally more notice of a child crossing the beam before falling in than electronic alarms, which only work when a person falls into the water. If no-one is nearby to assist, they are rendered useless. Fencing with self-closing gates tend to work best but as with any safety measure, cannot be assumed to be foolproof. Vigilance by parents is essential.
ROSPA point out that drownings on holiday tend to happen more frequently at the beginning and end of the holiday. Why is not obvious, but maybe influenced by the inquisitiveness of children on arrival and parents being busy packing before leaving.
Swimming pools are not the only danger on holiday, and like at home there are always potential problems around the house and gardens.
Here at Cantueso Cottages in Periana, Spain we have taken steps to minimise dangers not only with a high specification pool fence but have also adapted some of our cottages to make them more child friendly with stair gates where needed, bed guards, electric socket protectors, elimination of dangerous chemicals, and enclosed terraces to enable toddlers to play within a secure area. More about this on our toddlers page.
Travel companies have been curiously slow to catch on to the needs of travellers and all too few give you a search option of “secure pool” but if you look around you can normally find one that does.
An excellent NHS website regarding summer safety for children can be found here:
“Summer is a great time for children to get out and experience the world around them,” says Peter Cornall, head of leisure safety at RoSPA. “You do need to be aware of safety issues, but this isn't a reason to stop children enjoying activities.”
The website emphasises, as we all should, the importance of letting children have fun and not to get too obsessed with being as safe as possible, rather than as safe as necessary.
A short video of the Pool fencing at Cantueso can be seen here.
We would welcome your comments and advice