The tragic headline and photo in today’s San Jose Mercury News broke my heart: Toddlers’ tea party ends in drowning. Another accident that could have been prevented.
The parents described themselves as “safety oriented,” explaining that their almost three-year old twin daughters wore helmets when they rode bikes and horses and slept in cribs protected by mesh tents that needed to be unzipped by a parent. When the family moved into their home three years ago, they put up a 4 1/2-foot wrought iron fence around the pool.
But here are the circumstances that led to the tragedy: Dad was in the garage tending the family’s chickens, mom had drifted off to sleep while the girls played tea party on the deck outside her bedroom door—and the “padlock on the gate to the pool wasn’t fully fastened.” The mom had, no doubt, been lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that her daughters had never opened the gate before. She suspects they jiggled open the gate and fell in while trying to fill their tea sets.
The mother is quoted as saying “it’s painful to see strangers describing her and her husband as negligent in online forums. ‘Nobody loved their kids more than we did.'”
Of course they did, and it’s easy for people to blame them. The online comments following the article are vitriolic. Right now my heart is only filled with compassion for them. They will suffer from their loss and guilt for the rest of their lives.
There are several water safety lessons to be learned from this tragedy:
- All pool safety devices must be fully engaged at all times.
- Adults who are in charge must always clarify with each other who is watching the children and be vigilant.
- Never underestimate a child’s curiosity and determination to explore the forbidden, even when he’s been warned.