Phoenix Building Codes and The Safety of Children

A few posts ago I discussed some of the onerous build code hurdles we had to pass in retrofitting our house to pass a pool inspection.  In short, the code is designed to keep small children from getting out of the house on their own to a pool area.  Dead bolts must be 54" off the ground where they cannot reach them, the doors must have automatic closers (and thereby be difficult for small children to open) and windows cannot open wide enough to allow the kids to pass.  This is, of course, nominally for the safety of kids.

I pointed out one obvious critique of this regulation:  the vast, vast majority of kids do not drown in pools by sneaking out of the house.  They drown in pools when their parents know full well they are outside and fail to supervise them closely.

But I failed to discuss an even more obvious critique.  Can anyone see any possible problem with making it impossible for small children to exit the house?  Perhaps, say, in a fire?   Once I bring my house up to code, because none of the children's wing of the house has any window or door except to the pool area, the state will have made it absolutely impossible for small children to escape in a fire.   Yes, the state has forced me to turn the back of my house into a fire trap for kids.  That is, of course, unless I reverse all the changes 5 seconds after the inspector leaves my property, which of course I would never, ever do because I am a good American who pledged allegiance to the state every shool day of my childhood.


  1. Nigel Sedgwick:

    Noting your point about children's safety with respect to swimming pools, I wonder what the comparative statistics are for unsupervised children killed or injured on the roads immediately outside their homes.

    Best regards

  2. Paul:

    This is a great example of the Liberal Law of Unintended Consequences. Liberals see a social issue they feel they need to address (especially if it's "For The Children"), and go overboard in doing so. Thankfully, your children were not killed in a fire. However, some liberal nitwit might see your (now) unsafe house as a reason to pass another regulation. To make your pool even safer, they may require you to drain your pool each time you are not using it (this sounds stupid, but remember we are dealing with the Government here....). Which really makes your pool area unsafe - but they won't initially see the consequence of their stupid regs. Falling into a pool full of water gets you wet. Falling into an empty pool gets you a trip to the ER. Then they'll require you to put a fence right at the edge of the pool. Then they'll eventually make you take out your pool. Because some kid left unattended will still drown and some liberal will see a reason to do something.

  3. gadfly:

    The elephant in the room is the swimming pool. No pool, no problem!

  4. John:

    The solution is simple - a new law requiring the installation of automatic door unlockers in case of a fire. We can also fund the Department of Door Safety (in case of a fire) and if appropriate, elevate it to a cabinet level position. The department will be evaluated not by how many "children" are saved, but by how many new installs and how by how many families receive their "entitled to" door unlocking subsidy.

  5. NASCAR Wife:

    Maybe instead of worring about how to fail safe ppols we should fail safe parents. Child dies in a pool drowning, parents go to jail for negligent homicide.

    Everytime a kid dies in a drowning, the local news does a report on how the parents looked away 'for just a minute' and are 'devastated' by the loss. Then the report goes on to say that this or that safety feature of the pool was not working. Wea re not told that that the failed device was actually not incidental to the drowning or that 'looking away' meant that the parent was inside watching TV, answering the phone etc... No, we are all made to feel sorry about the dead child and the poor, poor parents. Usually turns out that the kid didn't know how to swim nor was he/she being supervised in the back yard.

    News reports shoud read "this piece of shit, who calls themselves a parent, let their child drown by not properly supervising the child in the back yard. The parent thought that the cell phone or the TV was more importatn than their child's life."

    Pass a law that says the prosecutor doesn't have a option not to bring charges in pool drowning cases. Make parents responsible for their kids with severe consequences when they abdicate that responsibility. Some drownings are accidental, most are negligent.

  6. Jens Fiederer:

    That code is woefully incomplete - haven't they ever heard of kids climbing up on a chair to reach higher? The code should also require removal of all furniture from the house to avoid THAT possibility.

  7. princewally:

    And pillows. I've seen my 2 year old balanced on a 3 foot stack of pillows to get a movie that was placed out of reach.

  8. Dr. T:

    Instead of bronzing our babies' shoes, we should just bronze our babies. The cute litle darlings will never be in jeopardy again. (Yes, I'm channeling Jonathan Swift.)

    Better yet, let's bronze all the nanny-state bureaucrats. They could become roosting places for pigeons and, over time, would get as much crap as they gave us.

  9. Barak A. Pearlmutter:

    Re "NASCAR Wife"'s idea of prosecuting parents for and and probably public whipping: do you really think this would have a deterrent effect? Don't you think having your child DIE, and knowing it was your fault, is already a bit of a punishment?