[SystemSafety] A Safety Issue, but not Tech - Drowning

Peter Bernard Ladkin ladkin at rvs.uni-bielefeld.de
Sun May 12 13:30:42 CEST 2019

An astonishing statistic. Of the 750 kids who drown annually in the US, half of them will do so
within 25m of a parent or other adult. Why?

It is not a lot of kids, but it is evidently half-of-750 more than it needs to be.

The reason is: because few people are aware of the signs of drowning. I certainly wasn't until I
read this. People become still in the water and don't move much - it's instinct. And if there is
stuff going on around them - people having fun in the water - it can be that no one notices.

It was referenced in John Naughton's Observer column today and I thought it important to propagate
as widely as possible.

There are quite a few issues like this of public safety which arise. For example, people obtaining a
driver's licence in Germany have to have attended a first-aid course. There is also a law saying you
must render help as you can, in any case of accident, danger or emergency (rather, it is phrased
negatively: not doing so is a criminal offence punishable by up to a year in prison)
https://dejure.org/gesetze/StGB/323c.html (in German, of course).

Compare this with the US: the murder of Kitty Genovese is a well-known incident

Does anyone know comparative studies on how general policies such as compulsory first-aid courses
for driver's-licence applicants work out? Local serious accidents in Bielefeld, especially road
accidents and house fires, are well-reported in our local newspaper. But comparing accident rates
and establishing efficacy/non-efficacy of prophylactic measures appears to be very hard in general,
let alone with counterfactuals such as how many people in these-and-these accidents would have been
worse off had the people at the scene not done this-and-this before the emergency services arrived.


Prof. Peter Bernard Ladkin, Bielefeld, Germany
Je suis Charlie
Tel+msg +49 (0)521 880 7319  www.rvs-bi.de

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