Make safety the first priority at swimming pools

Summer is here and swimming pools all over the city are impossibly crowded. From groups of kids either swimming or learning to swim, to adults looking to cool off and get some exercise in the blazing heat, numbers are up at these pools.

Yesterday, this paper carried a front page story on inadequate safety measures in a number of BMC pools across the city. This is after two persons drowned in public pools last year. While one does concede that, at times, sudden problems may arise in the water due to swimmers hiding pre-existing medical conditions, pool authorities at least need to ensure that they are equipped to respond quickly and efficiently in emergencies.

Most of these pools do not have a medical officer, which is a must. The stretchers that are supposed to ferry a patient to an ambulance need to be in good condition. Instead, they are in tatters. Surely a stretcher is not too much to ask.

Pools also need to make a delineation between coaches and lifeguards. While coaches teach swimming, lifeguards should be responsible for the safety of swimmers. Mixing both may cause the lifeguard to compromise on his safety duties as he may be teaching somebody at one end of the pool, and fail to reach in time when there is some emergency at the other.

One cannot blame lifeguards and coaches, though. They are doing the duty as instructed by the pools. It is up to civic authorities to ensure that there is adequate staff and manpower at these pools. Most of the time, there are inadequate numbers of personnel.

The first-aid boxes at pools also are wanting in equipment and do not have basic aids. This is particularly shocking, given that this is a basic requirement of all facilities offering any kind of exercise or sport.

Floats need to be in top class condition and in adequate numbers for swimmers. A paucity of floats is simply inexcusable. All in all, it takes everything to make safety a priority at pools. Trained people, good equipment and quick response time.

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