Two stories have attracted my attention over the last couple of days. The first is the launch of a rail safety DVD following the death of a teenager who was electrocuted after walking down a rail line. Her grandfather is of the opinion that network rail could do more to make tracks safer.
The second is a story about a chap who hired a canoe and took his two children out on the Wye river in Powys, the canoe overturned and the man's nine year old daughter died. He wants tougher regulation of canoe hire.
Now, I don't want to appear hard-hearted, the loss of a child must generate pain that I cannot even begin to imagine, but these two incidents could have been so easily avoided if the people involved had shown a little more thought. With respect to the rail incident in Kent, the young lady's mother has said that 'I cannot, as a mother, educate my children if I do not understand the dangers.'
Well, what is there to understand? You don't need to understand how the tracks work to understand that they are dangerous. I don't understand how microwave ovens work, however I do know that if I took next door's cat and put it in the microwave, things would not go well for the little chap. Rail lines are dangerous, ergo do not walk on them. Simple.
The man who lost one (and almost both) of his two kids whilst canoeing has criticised the canoe rental company for allowing a novice out in one of their boats. Well, why on earth as a novice were you taking out two young children? You had no experience of handling such a craft on a fast moving body of water, did you not consider that you did not have the skills to get out of trouble if any developed? Canoes travel on rivers, people drown on rivers, ergo if you don't know what you're doing, leave well alone, or take the time to learn what you are doing.
The problem here is that we have now been conditioned to think that if something goes wrong it is always someone's fault, and never, ever yours. We have seen two bad decisions made betraying a complete lack of judgement and the call goes up 'something must be done'.
Yes. Something must be done. It is cheap, doesn't involve regulation, legislation or (shudders) bannings. What must be done, is before you do something you've not done before or are unfamiliar with, just stop and consider what could happen and if you are equipped to react and prepared to deal with the consequences. If you are not then perhaps you ought to postpone your planned picnic on the M20 or impromptu dental inspection of the lions at the zoo, you may find that you avoid an unpleasant ending.