Painful Lesson In Pool Safety

Most hotels with pools do not offer poolside lifeguards or even life jackets.  Pretty much it is use at your own risk.  The Hyatt Regency in Dearborn, MI is no exception.  Their pool is open from early morning til late in the evening and is directly next to their 24 hour fitness center.  It is clearly posted in the pool area, on their website and in the safety information for the hotel that no lifeguards are on duty in their pool area and use is at the patrons own risk.

Unfortunately, Friday night one family took the risk and paid a terrible price.  During a birthday party around the pool area the guardians looked away for what could have been only seconds and lost track of a 5 year old boy.  Sadly, he was recovered from the bottom of the pool unresponsive.  The 911 operator guided the family in CPR and a doctor who was a guest at the hotel also assisted but to no avail.  He was reported dead upon arrival at the hospital.

Whether or not your child knows how to swim they should always wear a life jacket around the pool.  Don’t expect the venue to be the provider of such apparatus either.  They are your children and you should be the one watching and caring for them.  If we are in or near a pool my eyes are always on my children.  Last summer I learned the hard way that you cannot – repeat CANNOT- rely on many eyes to watch your children.  People become complacent thinking that “someone” will watch the kids, but unless one person is put in specific charge of the child/children we cannot trust that anyone is actually watching.  Large groups are also a nightmare.  Without at least a life jacket to keep your child afloat should they fall into the pool distractions could be the end of your child’s life like it was for that unfortunate little boy.

Pools at hotels are provided as an amenity.  They are not in the business of only providing a venue to swim.  They’ve already gone into the business of having beds, linens, clean towels, and room service among other things so we need to be responsible in how we use the amenities they provide.  The reason I bring this up is because I came across the website of a sleazy lawyer who was attempting to garner business from the family of this boy or any other family who’s undergone a similar situation.  Their claim is that under Michigan law the hotel could be liable for gross negligence.  That may be but in the defense of the hotel they clearly state what they provide and what they do not.  The risk is ours to take and thus our responsibility to consider the possibilities and take precautions where necessary.  Honestly, it would be no different if they had chosen to have the birthday party on the shore of a lake or near the banks of a river – there is no lifeguard and no safety equipment provided.  Who would be liable for negligence then?  In my eyes the same people who are liable for negligence in the case of this little boy his parents and/or guardian.


The reason this became a soapbox for me is because we stayed at the hotel on Saturday night.  We (DH and I) were excited about getting to swim in the hotel pool with our girls as one last chance to use our summer’s swimsuits (really theirs, we won’t be outgrowing ours any time soon, I hope).  This terrible accident was brought to our attention after asking about pool hours, though not in detail at first, only to say the pool was closed until further notice.  We inquired of one of the hotel security guards who informed us of the tragic events of the evening previous.  Our girls were not apprised of the situation until we arrived home and commented on why we had taken our swimming gear and not used it.  Though it was a difficult story to tell to two little girls it was a good opportunity to teach a lesson in water safety and why it is so critical that they stay near us and stay safe when around open water.

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