Preparing for the dangers of summertime
By Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood
Come summertime and the local news headlines unfailingly turn up with stories of home fires from short fuses on air-conditioners or drowning and water-related accidents in swimming pools and the seaside.
Like flooding of our streets during winter rains but with far more dangerous consequences, we see this happening every year but seem unprepared for it with every new season.
Over the years of course, much has changed. Our civil defence authorities have tightened the regulations and done much to prevent rogue landlords from breaking safety rules and stuffing old and decrepit houses with tenants, many of whom literally lived in “bed space”, taking shifts to sleep in these rooms which were hastily partitioned with cheap and flammable plywood.
Often these partitions changed the entry and exit access in these homes and in case of any emergency, people were trapped in life-threatening situations. Our swimming pools and seaside have not been monitored as effectively, alas. Not just hotels but also private homes today have swimming pools and very often, the homeowners do not know to swim but use the pool as a status symbol.
The result is that they are vulnerable to tragic accidents that can leave a psychological scar on the family when a loved one drowns. The first rule in the case of water bodies is that every hotel should have a trained lifeguard on duty at all times.
The same applies to the seaside – much of our beachfront is in private hands for tourism purposes of course and hotels which make revenue from these spaces should also spend on safety measures and lifeguards.
In the case of private property, things are a bit complicated. But just as we would not allow a person to drive a car without passing the driving license exam, so too, there should be a rule that swimming pools in private homes should be properly gated to prevent children from accessing them without adult supervision and the adults in the family must know swimming to qualify to have a pool in their property.
If, as in many cases, the home is a rented property and the family members do not know swimming and are not interested to learn it, the pool should be drained and temporarily boarded up.
Think of the lives and pain that such extreme action would save. Finally, if you plan to learn one thing this summer, let it be something that may save your life or help you to save others – learn swimming.
Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism