Boys leap into a public swimming pool in Baghdad, Iraq, Wedn.
(photo credit: AP)
Among the Talmudic injunctions of parental obligations to children is to teach one’s child to swim. Though many things have changed since Talmudic times, one thing remains constant – the value of human life.
Religiously observant Jews are permitted – in fact duty-bound – to break nearly every rule in the book to save a human life. While Israelis will go to unbelievable lengths to save the life of a person in peril, such rescue operations might not be necessary if more attention were paid to the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Every year there are reports of children drowning. Most of these children are toddlers who have wandered away from a parental eye and, in the few minutes until their absence has been noticed, have fallen into a swimming pool, a lake or even a jacuzzi. On rare occasions, paramedics have arrived on time to revive a drowned infant and to restore a pulse. More often than not, though, it is too late – and parents spend the rest of their lives mourning and suffused in guilt. Such incidents have also led to the breakup of marriages.
Children should to be taught to swim from the earliest possible age. And even after they can swim, those who are not yet of a double-digit age, must not be allowed out in any place where there is a pool, a creek, the sea or any other body of water without a life belt around their waists.
A colleague, who would love to teach his young son how to swim, complains of the paucity of municipal pools in Israel.
Pools in hotels and kibbutzim, as well as the very few neighborhood pools that exist, charge fees that are too expensive for an average Israeli family with two or more children. “Where can I teach my son to swim?” asks the colleague, pointing out that it takes several lessons before the parents and the child are satisfied that the child can at least swim the width of the pool unaided.
It borders on criminal negligence that municipalities do not build community swimming pools that are accessible at affordable prices. If prices were affordable, many more people would use such pools and the income would then cover maintenance costs.
Aside from that, many hotel chains pride themselves on giving back to the community, and have their staffs engage in social welfare activities. Most hotels with swimming pools also have a junior pool for children, which they could make available free of charge on certain days of the week, or certain hours of the day. There would be little danger of parents abusing such an arrangement by making use of the larger pool for their own pleasure, because this would mean leaving their infants unattended.
Someone should really launch a campaign under the heading of “Save a Child’s Life by Teaching Him/Her to Swim.”
Every summer, in addition to child fatalities caused by drowning, there are also those of infants left in locked cars by absent-minded parents. Such children become dehydrated; depending on where the car is parked and the extent to which the sun glares in, the interior of the car can become as hot as a furnace.
People have come up with all kinds of ideas as to how to prevent this absentmindedness, but as yet, there is no foolproof solution. This places an obligation on passersby to look through the windows of every parked car to see if there is an infant locked inside and to notify police accordingly.
Nothing is more precious than the life of a child.
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