By ELOISE WALTON
FOLLOWING YEARS of reported cases of children drowning in Portugal, the Portuguese government is finally preparing new laws to help make swimming pools safer.
Although there are no official records of the number of drownings in Portugal, the Associação Portuguesa de Segurança Infantil (APSI), the Portuguese association for child safety, releases a yearly report detailing the number of fatal and non fatal accidents reported in children aged up to 18 (See The Resident, September 20).
Helena Cardoso de Menezes, a child safety and risk assessment consultant at APSI, said: “New legislation has not yet been passed but there has been progress. A proposal has been sent to APSI, as well as to other similar organisations, detailing the government’s proposal for new regulations to make swimming pools safer.”
She added that APSI was invited to comment on the proposal and sent it back with many suggestions.
“Drowning is not the only danger in and around a swimming pool. Legislation must also look at the design and construction of pools which are not regulated, to avoid slippery surfaces and sharp corners,” said Helena Menezes. “It’s not only pools but also tanks and wells that must be regulated to prevent accidents.”
Suggestions sent to the government are expected to influence the final proposal or create a new one within the next few months.
To prevent such tragic accidents from occurring, APSI works regularly with teachers, health professionals and organised groups of parents to educate them on how to teach children to avoid these dangers, as well as making areas safer.
“We don’t teach children directly because a one off warning doesn’t work, we believe that children need continuous reinforcement from their teachers and parents about the dangers of water,” said Helena Menezes.
For more information about APSI, please visit the Portuguese website www.apsi.org.pt. Advice on beach safety can also be found in Portuguese at www.marinha.pt/isn/
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