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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I read with interest the letter from Amanda's mother, who was concerned for Amanda's safety when visiting grandparents who have an unfenced swimming pool. She said she realized that a fence is expensive, and asked how she could let her in-laws know how important a fence is to save the life of a child.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is very concerned about child drownings. In 1987, more than 300 children under the age of 5 drowned in residential swimming pools and spas. This does not even count the thousands who survived near-drowning, some with permanent brain damage.

I certainly agree with everything you said in your reply. There is no substitute for constant adult supervision. Pool owners should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to be prepared just in case. We would like to add our recommendation for a fence at least 4 feet high with a self-closing and self-latching gate. This is an important additional layer of protection.

Drownings happen quickly -- a child can drown in less than 3 minutes -- and more often than not the child is unable to cry out for help. Fencing the pool is a valuable extra measure pool owners can take to deter a child's access to the water.

We offer to your readers our free brochure, "Children and Pools: A Safety Checklist." Send your request on a postcard to: Pool Safety Checklist, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C. 20207. -- CAROL G. DAWSON, COMMISSIONER, CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION

DEAR ABBY: I just read the letter from "Andy's Mother" who was disappointed in her son because he wanted to do manual labor and work with his hands instead of getting a college education.

Abby, my husband is 26 years old and has been a bricklayer for nearly seven years, and he is far from stupid. He not only lays bricks, he is sometimes the foreman and has to read blueprints for large buildings.

I wonder how many men Andy's mother knows who make $45,000 a year without a college education.

My husband works 40 hours a week, and I am able to stay home and take care of our own children. I know a lot of "professional" people who put their children in day care because one income is not enough to raise a family.

I'm proud of my husband. He may work with his hands, but he also has to work with his head or he wouldn't know what to do with his hands. If it weren't for people like my husband, we would all be living in tents with no electricity or plumbing. -- A MASON'S WIFE IN HARTFORD, CONN.

DEAR MASON'S WIFE: The mail was heavy on this subject. A Waco, Texas, reader wrote in to say that he worked with his hands, but he also had eight years of college. He was a dentist.

Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to: Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600