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