Dwight Watt Internet Article #66

#66 Fun, fun in the summer . Or not? 5/23/2001

#66 Fun, fun in the summer . Or not?

Traditionally summer has meant fun in the water in the summer, especially to cool off. From swimming in the swimming hole to swimming in the concrete pool to on the beach to dashing thru fountains and hoses squirting water, the water has been a fun part of summer and a chance to cool off in the heat.

Now comes a recent announcement from Purdue University that they are going to put walls up around their fountains to keep people out of the water. They have a fear of being sued by someone falling down in the water in the fountain.

The main fountain was built at Purdue much as many other fountains are today, with no standing pool of water so as to prevent people from falling in it and drowning. It is at sidewalk height so no steps to trip on and designed for people to run through. Many running through them, including myself when I was on the campus for several summers in the early 90s.

Their fear is that the concrete gets slick from the water and algae and that someone will slip and fall and badly hurt themselves or possibly die. That ten a lawsuit will occur. Is this the beginning of the end of fun with water in the summer?

In many cities the fire departments do an Operation Splash to allow inner city kids to cool off by running thru water coming from the fire hose on the street. It is seen as a way to keep tension down. Will this die now because of cities having the same fears? Will we see the fountain disappear as an ornament at campuses and buildings? We got around the drowning part, but if this the fear, what will a low wall do but present an easier way to fall. Hot days, humans , and water attracts no matter the age.

I hope that we continue to see the chance to play in the water, that Purdue reconsiders their decision and that the legislatures and courts realize what our litigous society and huge monetary awards has led us to. Reasonable precautions could include in fountains regularly doing a little scrubbing, and extra chlorine to water to discourage algae buildups.


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