Time to review pool entry rules?

Toa Payoh Swimming Complex.
Toa Payoh Swimming Complex. PHOTO: EYEB

The state coroner's comments on the tragic drowning of a three-year-old boy ("Toddler's drowning a 'tragic misadventure' "; last Thursday) are a sad reminder of the need to keep constant watch over children. This is because drowning can be a quick and silent killer.

Unless thinking about water safety and taking preventive measures become a habit for us, we are likely to continue to get such reminders.

Years ago, I told some pool operators that it seemed odd to me that while our golf clubs require a person to pass a proficiency test before he is able to play on their golf courses, our pool operators (including golf clubs that have pools) do not have a minimum swimming proficiency test before people are allowed unrestricted entry to their pools.

Perhaps it is time for our pool operators to review their rules. This will ensure that entrants into swimming facilities do not have unrestricted or unsupervised entry unless they pass a minimum water or swimming proficiency test.

A number of pool operators overseas have already implemented rules of such a nature.

There will be some inconvenience but, like the security measures taken at airports, most people are likely to understand and appreciate them eventually.

Another safety measure that pool operators may consider is the wearing of coloured wrist bands for all or younger pool users.

For example, in some pools in Canada, when children under 10 years old pay for pool entry, the cashier will secure an orange band to their wrists, which restricts them to areas of shallow water.

The band will be removed by the staff only after they pass a swim test.

The prevention of drowning needs to be a constant and comprehensive effort to be effective. Each additional safety measure will help to reduce the likelihood of drowning incidents taking place.

Richard Tan Ming Kirk


Singapore Life Saving Society

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2016, with the headline 'Time to review pool entry rules?'. Print Edition | Subscribe