Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert
Recently, a rash of lawsuits have been filed against hotels because of drownings occurring to paying and non-paying guests.
Most of these lawsuits claimed that a major cause of the incident drownings were related to swimming pool parties. Statistically speaking, more than half of all drownings in the United States occur when a group of patrons visit an aquatic facility. These swimming groups are typically comprised of birthday parties, family reunions, Fourth of July parties, and the like. Hotel swimming pools tend to be significantly smaller than municipal pools, YMCA pools, school pools, etc. Additionally, the vast majority of hotel pools are “Swim at Your Own Risk, NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY.” Parties at hotel pools quickly inundate these small vessels with too many people. This creates hazardous situations that can quickly turn deadly; therefore, hotel pools should ban swimming pool parties, unless the hotel provides a lifeguard and creates a pool party policy that is enforceable. When adults bring children to a social event at any pool they often, and incorrectly, believe that the more adults in attendance equates to increased supervision. This idea stems from more eyes observing the pool and its occupants; whereas, the opposite of this statement is true. More adults mean increased socializing and distractions, as well as the belief that the other adults in attendance are watching the kids. Hotel pools need to advise their customers that pool parties are not allowed, unless of course, the hotel can make appropriate and effective safety accommodations for the group. Pool parties are an especially risky proposition for hotel properties, and serious discussion needs to take place in order to decide on how to handle this potential hazard appropriately and effectively.
Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert with DJS Associates, Inc., can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.