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Lifeguard law?

Boston, MA
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4,938 posts
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Lifeguard law?

Recently stayed at a hotel in Linthicum, MD. The pool hours were very limited and was staffed by a lifeguard. The lifeguards were too

busy texting to really care what was going on in the pool, so I figured there must be a law in this city, county or state that requires lifeguards. I made a comment on another thread and it was suggested to create a new thread. I have googled and found Connor's Law which seems to be a state bill created in 2008 requiring public pools to have lifeguards. I'm not 100% sure this bill passed and was hoping someone could verify this info. I would have changed some of my itinerary ahead of time if I knew that our hotel had limited pool hours, since my kids like to take a dip before and or after sightseeing.

Baltimore, Maryland
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for North Conway
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1. Re: Lifeguard law?

Hotel pools are private not public. Not sure out is a law but most hotels that I have stayed at close the pool when guards st off duty got lability/insurance reasons.

Boston, MA
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2. Re: Lifeguard law?

I have never stayed at a hotel that had lifeguards except at a resort pools, most hotel pools say to swim at your own risk. This is the first time I have been to a hotel pool that required them. It is not a bad thing but since they were texting instead of watching swimmers it did seem odd.

Baltimore, Maryland
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for North Conway
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3. Re: Lifeguard law?

Well the not paying attention part should be reported.

Bethesda, Maryland
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4. Re: Lifeguard law?

As a long time aquatics professional, these kinds of stories make me sick. I've seen countless examples of distressed or drowning swimmers (usually children) that could easily have been missed if I, or some other lifeguard, had not maintained a diligent awareness of what's going on in the water. That kind of behavior is unacceptable and can become deadly for someone.

Under state law in Maryland, hotel pools are NOT private facilities. They are classified as "semi-public" facilities. This designation applies to pools at hotels, private clubs (like the local country club or YMCA), etc. Basically, while you may have to be a guest staying in the hotel to have access to the facility, anyone off the street can still come in and buy a hotel room. Private pools basically refer to something in your back yard.

Under state law, we must maintain 1 lifeguard for every 50 swimmers for a public facility, and 1 lifeguard per 25 swimmers for a semi-public facility. I'm not entirely sure why the higher standard for semi-public facilities. But I suspect the reason is that most "public" pools are run by state or local governments, and the lower standard for them was meant as a way to save tax money. Connor's law was proposed a couple years ago, and has even been re-introduced I believe, and would have made the 1:25 ratio apply for all public pools. However it did not get out of committee (again, probably because of money).

Unfortunately, the law only requires lifeguards to be on duty. They could be doing a very poor job, and nothing stops the facility from allowing them to do that, until something bad happens and they get sued. That is what happened with Connor. Parents won a judgment for $4 million. In any event, my advice is to write a strongly worded letter to the GM of the hotel explaining what happened. If you recall the name of the lifeguard, use it. If not, provide as best a description as you can so the hotel can identify that person. Make clear that you find the situation entirely unacceptable and that it will be a serious negative consideration when you decide whether to stay at the hotel again. Maybe even question why you're paying the room rates you are, if the employees that your money pays aren't even doing the job they're being paid to do. Hotels tend to get squeemish when it comes to guest complaints, especially if you suggest you might not be back, so not only should such a letter end up being a good wakeup call for the hotel, but you might also get some free gifts out of it too.

Do not be afraid to be firm. Any lifeguard who decides texting is more important than watching his/her water deserves to be fired on the spot. I maintain this policy with my own lifeguards. They are forbidden to even have their phones on their body while working. I tell them all when they start that if I catch them with their phones they'll be instantly terminated, and that if I catch them on their chairs with their phones out, I'll throw it right into the pool. And once or twice, I've even had to prove to them that I'm serious when I say that. The truth is that lifeguards can and often do have life or death in their hands. Incidents like this should never be taken lightly.

Middlebury, Vermont
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5. Re: Lifeguard law?

I have called around the local hotels as this is the same issue for us, our children like to go to the pool during the day and I typically travel with my husband when he is on business. We try to find places with indoor swimming. The hotels in Frederick area open daily from 6am-11pm, which is more "normal." The pool opening from 5pm-9pm is over our dinner time and really bums our children out. I find it ridiculous since these hotels typically have about 3-10 swimmers MAX. It really ruins our family business trip ideals. Not to mention it also coincides with their room service hours as well, so what are we supposed to do with kids set on swimming, chose dinner or swimming?

Washington, DC
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6. Re: Lifeguard law?

GeKapp is right on with his/her laws regarding life guards on duty in Maryland. The only thing I will add, is the laws are regulated by the county. Frederick County does not require a guard to be on duty while the pool is open, the hotel may impose a "swim at your own risk" policy.

Anne Arundel County (BWI), Baltimore County and many others require a lifeguard to be on duty if the pool is open. This then becomes cost prohibitive for most hotels to staff the pool for 12 to 14 hours a day, when it will sit unused for over half that time.

One bit of advice is you might want to consider Hampton Inn, they as a chain require hotels with pools to be open from 10AM to 10PM I believe. Other hotel chains may have options on their hours and choose the later 5 or 6 pm start that is not uncommon.

However, you may want to call the particular hotel you are thinking about staying in to make sure they are abiding by the brands standards for hours.

St. Petersburg...
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7. Re: Lifeguard law?

I am staying at a hotel in Hanover MD. I went for a evening sit in the hot tub -- there were 10 mins left until the closing of the pool/spa (just long enough for a 'sit'). I was quikly asked to leave because of the Maryland Lifeguard law - the desk clerk said by law there had to be a lifeguard present even for the spa but the pool guy had left early.

It is hard to believe that for one mature woman to sit in a spa for ten minutes a lifegurard had to be present. Strangest thing I have heard of...

8. Re: Lifeguard law?

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9. Re: Lifeguard law?

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