Big Brother Reigns In Anne Arundel County

When I saw the headline, Bill limiting lifeguards at hotel pools defeated, on the front page of yesterday’s Examiner, I automatically assumed this was a debate in front of the likes of either the Annapolis or Baltimore City Council. Heck, if it weren’t for the fact that the Baltimore Examiner deals almost exclusively with Baltimore area news, I would have naturally guessed a local council from the People’s Republic of Montgomery County was tackling this issue. As I opened up the paper to read the story, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that the republican dominated Anne Arundel County Council soundly defeated a measure that would allow several county hotels to operate their pools without lifeguards. In all, approximately 60 hotels that have pools with a depth of 5 feet or less could have been affected.

Besides being an unnecessary cost to hotel guests (not the owners believe that), this is a smack in the face to travelers who choose our county as a more attractive alternative to Baltimore. Imagine after a long day of business meetings, some CEO is forbidden from taking a swim because some 16 year old high school kid abruptly quit his afternoon job as lifeguard? Why are we going on the flawed assumption that adults simply aren’t capable or responsible enough to enter a pool without supervision?

Over the last several years, I have stayed at several hotels up and down the East Coast. It seems to me that many hotels have abandoned the use of lifeguards in favor of the philosophy “Swim at your own risk”. Wow, what a concept! Now some hotels do take a cautious approach by requiring children 16 and under to be accompanied by a parent or guardian in the pool area.

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The vote on this bill in Anne Arundel County apparently had more to do with emotions than common sense. The council listened to powerful testimony from a father whose 6 year old son drowned at a Crofton pool in 2006. Ironically, that pool had a lifeguard on duty at the time. While I am not pointing the finger at this grieving father in any way, I will say that some people get a false sense of security when they leave their children at a pool with a lifeguard.

If adults wish to enter a pool with no one else around, I see no problem with that. If a child wants to enter a pool, the onus lies with mom and dad to supervise them. You cannot legislate common sense. Ultimately, silly measures such as this create an environment where Anne Arundel County could become an unattractive option for out of town travelers. The end result means less tax revenue and a hit on our local economy.


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