Anne Arundel County authorities responded to a tragic drowning in a swimming pool in Severna Park. Aryannah Wooten, a 4-year-old, and her grandfather, Lemuel Kane, age 51, were pronounced dead at Baltimore-Washington Medical Center. Efforts to resuscitate them were not successful after firefighters found them at the bottom of the pool upon arrival. Apparently, a group of children had been swimming when Wooten was seen struggling in the deeper end of the pool. Her grandfather attempted to rescue her, yet he was unable to swim. The Capital Gazette reported that the property owners were not home at the time; however, they allowed usage of the pool as long as there was adult supervision.
Residential Swimming Pools Regulations in Anne Arundel County
The county health department has a Property Maintenance Code that sets guidelines for residential swimming pools. Each owner must install a sturdy barrier to protect individuals from potential safety hazards. Residential swimming pools are defined as recreational structures intended for swimming or bathing that exist at a single or double family home with a water depth of 24 inches or more. They are classified as being in-ground, above the ground, hot-tubs, or spas. Those with inadequate barriers to prevent entry to the pool area are deemed to be in violation.
- All residential pools must have a secure fence or wall installed that spans the entire area to prevent entry
- Spa units which are equipped with a safety cover do not require a barrier
- The barrier must be a minimum of 48” tall to be compliant
- Openings within the barrier may not exceed four inches
Penalties for Unsafe Swimming Pool
Those who are not in compliance with the maintenance code are subject to a $125 fine for the first violation. The fines are $500 for a second and $1,000 for a third violation, and apply for each day that the violation exists. If the property owner or responsible party is unable to be contacted, a Health Officer may order that immediate actions be taken to secure the area. The Department of Health encourages swimming pool owners to install draining covers for the pool that are in accordance with the standards of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act. This Act was established by Congress and is promoted with assistance from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Pool Safety Tips
Children should not be left unattended when swimming and should be supervised by an adult that can swim. Parents are encouraged to have their children learn to swim by taking lessons that are geared for their age. Maintain adequate safety equipment in the pool area. Be sure that visitors are actually able to swim, particularly children. Having a swimming pool can create significant liability concerns that require your attention.