In Chapter 5 of Freakonomics, which explores the art and science of parenting, we pose this question: Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? It turns out that far more children die each year in swimming pool accidents than in gun incidents. For parents in warm-weather states like Florida, California, and Arizona, this is plainly a year-round concern, and now that summer seems to have leapt over spring (at least here in New York City, where it hit 80 F. yesterday), swimming-pool season is nearly here for all of us.
That’s why I thought it was worthwhile to pass along this e-mail from Bob Lyons of Ottawa, who in 1998 invented a “personal immersion alarm” called the Safety Turtle. (Too bad this guy came along too soon for American Inventor; they really could have used him.) As Lyons writes:
Many mothers [and grandparents and pet owners] were positive; while men were often dismissive. Yet, astonishingly, actions said: “great invention for other people,” but for us, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”! I wonder how the inventor of the car seat belt did?
Fortunately, Safety Turtle technology was adopted in workplaces and in boating. And finally pool owners are buying it in large numbers. It’s saving lives as intended, as a last layer of protection — not, to quote a dismissive pool & spa industry leader in 2001, as an “electronic baby sitter.”
Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? is pretty compelling. Thank you for helping expose the anomaly that has been so tragic for so many families.
Hey Bob: maybe you’ll consider giving me and Levitt your Safety Turtle sales data so we can back and see if the areas that buy more of your Safety Turtles end up suffering less pool accidents and injuries?