Following the recent tragedy of Presley Stockton, who drowned in the swimming pool of the hotel Paradise Park in Los Cristianos, The Sun has led several British tabloids in publishing extremely emotive pieces about hotel swimming pools here generally, calling them among the worst in Europe for safety. In particular, they report that the lifeguard was not doing his job, was chatting to girls, and that there was only one guard on duty when there should have been two and that the one who was present did not know what to do anyway. Worse, they put these words in the mouths of members of the child’s family who weren’t even on the holiday. Moreover, in an attempt to show how awful our hotels’ pools are, the papers give examples of other tragic incidents which have taken place “in the Canaries and Tenerife” … citing Ibiza, Marbella, Catalonia …
And so, for anyone reading those articles and also this one, and who might think twice about the wisdom of coming to a hotel here, it is important to set a few things straight. First, the hotel emphatically denies that there was only one lifeguard on duty, and indeed has issued a statement saying that there were two and it was they who between them pulled the child out of the water and attempted resuscitation for the few minutes it took for emergency services to arrive. The hotel continued that it was doing everything in its power to assist the family, helping by any means it could including provision of technical and human resources from the hotel itself, the hotel association Ashotel, and the Canarian Government. In addition, lifeguards are highly trained, and cannot be employed without full professional qualifications and regular routine training to ensure they are able to act and react appropriately, securely, and instantly: indeed, hotels’ very licences to remain open depend on their adherence to the full and extensive range of regulations in place.
The Canaries admittedly do not have brilliant statistics for drownings, but the vast majority of them take place in the sea, and sadly the majority also involve foreigners, often elderly, who do not know the dangers that can apply to any coast anywhere, and also don’t inform themselves about the beach flags used, cold water shock, undertow, rip tides, and so on: please see HERE for official water safety advice. We are talking, however, about the sea, not pools, and generally older people, not children. The posts HERE and HERE are just the last two annual ones I have written on drownings in Tenerife: please do see for yourself how few incidents involve children, and how very few involve swimming pools, let alone hotel swimming pools specifically.
Obviously children and water are a potentially lethal mixture, but it is scandalous to imply that lifeguards are irresponsible, or untrained, or useless, and in defence of the safety of Tenerife’s hotel swimming pools the statistics themselves simply do not bear out the “among the worst in Europe” claim. Indeed, lifeguards themselves are proud of their training and professionalism which thankfully result in an incredibly low number of fatalities in the pools of hotels whose very existence depends on people having good, and safe, holidays. The tabloids’ attempt to generate outrage from tragedy by casting aspersions on highly motivated and dedicated vocational professionals is the real scandal here, and does nothing whatsoever to help anyone, least of all the family of the child who has just lost his life in what the hotel says is the first such incident in its 30-year history.