It is possible to do a long list of changes in the society of the United States – and the world – that reflect a growing awareness of the public towards a culture of safety: the use of safety belts in automobiles, special seats for children or vaccination on time.
Civil rights leader Martin Luther King used to say that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. We can say then that the curve of positive social change is equally extensive, but it leans toward the side of common sense, at least in most cases.
Thousands of lives are saved every year by the proper use of seat belts and child safety seats in cars. In the same way, thousands of diseases, visits to hospitals and even deaths are avoided every year thanks to vaccination and preventive medical examinations.
It is true that some of these changes have been accompanied, reinforced and forced by legal changes that contemplate sanctions or punishments. But those legal changes, approved in the state legislatures or in the federal Congress, would not have been possible without the support or, at least, the acceptance of the public.
However, there are also preventive security measures of great value that do not depend on laws or punishments, but on the good exercise of common sense. Eight out of 10 deaths in the water have a common denominator: The victims did not wear a lifejacket. And not because their boat did not have them: Surveys show that many people do not use them because they find them uncomfortable, expensive or because they simply do not allow them to sunbathe. During a family vacation in the Mexican Caribbean last summer I was a judge and part of the problem. In our boat, as in others, all the minors had vests on, but not all adults. One of the parents commented that he did not wear it because it did not make him look skinny and another said he did not wear it because he knew how to swim very well. The reality is that a large proportion of Hispanics – especially children – cannot swim and that the new generation of life jackets are quite comfortable, affordable and, most importantly, save lives. It is proven. I have had the opportunity to participate for several years in a national campaign to promote the use of vests among Latino families. Hopefully I can see the day when wearing a vest in the water is as normal, routine, and routine as wearing a seatbelt in the car, infants in their seat, or brushing their teeth