"Children can fall into a bucket and drown."

That bitter but unalterable truth is now printed on warning labels attached to most 5-gallon buckets made in the United States. Not, however, because government demands it.No, indeed. The regulators at the Consumer Product Safety Commission can read the political winds. The other day they abandoned their eight-month study of possible ways of curbing the scourge of bucket drownings and settled for a $500,000 five-year campaign of posters and broadcast announcements urging parents to supervise their children.

It would, of course, be insensitive to scoff at even freakish tragedy. As Scripps Howard News Service notes, some 30 toddlers a year do drown in pails, joining the more than 20,000 Americans killed in accidents at home. Nevertheless, the regulators were right to back off, and not only because cowed manufacturers have adopted warning labels voluntarily. More basically, it's because a sense of proportion is desirable for sanity.

To live is to court danger, from buckets and bathtubs, hot stoves, hard sidewalks and sharp sticks. To grow up is to accept that the planet holds perils from which the Consumer Product Safety Commission cannot save us.