What's the Scariest Thing Hiding in Your Neighborhood?

pool safety
Flickr photo by titlap
If you asked me a few months ago what was the scariest thing hiding in our neighborhood, I would have said the coyotes.

Or the men who don't put sunscreen on a certain part of their upper body and have an affinity for gun play (hint, it rhymes with schmedschmeck).

Or maybe the teenagers who drive too fast down to make out in the cul-de-sac on my road.

Not anymore.

My neighbors put in a pool.

And there's a little statistic that keeps coming back to haunt me:


A pool in your neighborhood is more dangerous than a gun.

At least according to Steven D. Levitt, Professor of Economics, University of Chicago, and one of the guys behind Freakonomics.

Levitt's review of the statistics gets trotted out summer after summer: According to the number of kids who drown in pools vs. the number who are fatally shot, a pool is 100 times more dangerous for children.

By his assessment, one child is shot for every 1 million guns out there. By comparison, one child drowns for every 11,000 pools in America. The professor has weathered criticism for his assessment, among them claims over the years that he played with the numbers to suit his own anti-gun sensibilities.

But the fear of the pool in the neighborhood remains.

Even in a state where fences are required around pools. Even with my daughter set to enroll in a second summer of swimming lessons.

I'm fortunate not to personally know one person who has lost a child to a gun. I have known three families who lost a child in a pool accident.

Among them was the drowning of an elementary schooler when I was in middle school. The child was in fourth or fifth grade; old enough to know better and old enough to bypass a fence.

I can't do much about my neighbors' pool -- it's their property; their right. But I'm now in the process of having my own fence put in as an extra added measure of parental sanity protection.

It's just another reminder that as parents, you can add every safety measure out there. But you can't control the rest of the neighborhood.

Do the pools in your neighborhood make you nervous?

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