Wednesday, 22 April 2015

[Today] Relook lightning risk protocol at public swimming pools

I have been a frequent swimmer at Geylang East Swimming Complex for the past 10 years. Previously, when there are dark clouds or rain, lifeguards will evacuate the pools due to lightning risk.
However, in recent months, the protocol seems to have been tightened. Of the visits I made to the pool over the past eight weeks, I have been asked to exit the pool six times, when the sky appeared clear. Such tightening of protocol not only dampens the experience of recreational swimmers, but also disrupts those learning how to swim at the pool.
According to lifeguards whom I have spoken to, it seems that the protocol is that if there is a lightning alert from the National Environment Agency within an 8km radius, the pool will be closed for 30 minutes.
Within an 8km radius of Geylang East are places such as Yio Chu Kang, Tampines, Marina Bay and even Bukit Timah. Imagine a lightning risk in Bukit Timah causing pool closures in Geylang East.
We all understand the risks of lightning. Lightning can travel 16km before it strikes the ground. But many swimming complexes in Singapore are surrounded by tall buildings with lightning rods. As such, is there a need to worry about lightning that is 8km away?
I hope Sports Singapore will look into this protocol, such that it will protect pool users while enabling them to have a good swimming experience.