NEARLY all (95 percent) of drownings which occur in private swimming pools each year in Spain could be avoided by building protective barriers around the edge, paediatrician Jorge Parise said yesterday.

Parise, who was speaking yesterday at the 59th National Congress of the Spanish Paediatricians' Association being held in the Canary Islands, described Spanish legislation on swimming pool safety as “pretty poor”.

Parise warned that it was in the summer months that the mortality rate of children under four years-of-age soared. Child deaths in private swimming pools comes second only to those caused by traffic accidents, he claimed.

Around 3'000 specialists are attending the event in the Canary Islands which will continue until Sunday, 6th June. One of the round table discussion groups at the Congress will focus on the prevention of swimming pool deaths.

A spokesman for the Safety Committee of the Spanish Paediatricians' Association said that historically there were no exact records on these types of accidents but in 2007, when child swimming pool deaths started being recorded, there were 80 children under the age of five drowned in Spain in that year alone.

Parise pointed out that 73 percent of these deaths happened in private swimming pools where there is no legislation enforcing the presence of a lifeguard.

He said that in the Balearic and Canary Islands where many tourists come annually, child drownings often happen because parents leave their offspring alone, particularly after meals. “This, in itself, should never be allowed to happen,” said Parise.