Edelweiss Lodge enforces new pool safety policies
GARMISCH, Germany — The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort has increased safety measures at the hotel’s pool following the Dec. 4 death of a 4-year-old boy who was pulled from the pool by a guest on Thanksgiving day.
Pool staff have been enforcing a policy requiring adults to sign a sheet informing them that children under the age of 15 must be supervised while in the pool, according to Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation spokeswoman Victoria Palmer.
Staff members control an electronic lock on the door giving access to the pool, and the sign-in sheet now includes the age and number of children admitted, Palmer said via e-mail from her office in Alexandria, Va.
Extra flotation ropes will be added in mid-January to better separate the shallow end of the pool from deeper water, she said.
Children under the age of 6 now are required to wear water wings in the pool. But the hotel has ordered life vests, and when they arrive sometime this month, all youngsters under 6 will be required to wear life vests while in the pool area, Palmer said.
Edelweiss, a popular destination for troops on midtour leave from Iraq and Afghanistan, also plans to block windows that allow people in the outdoor Jacuzzi to observe children swimming in the pool, she said. That will dissuade adults in the Jacuzzi from trying to supervise children in the swimming pool, she said.
“We cannot stress enough that the best assurance of a child’s safety is proper vigilant parental supervision, and that means being with your child and within arm’s reach when your child is in the pool,” Palmer said.
Palmer said the death of the boy, whose name was not released, was the first at the hotel pool. The lodge opened in 2004. She said, however, that three other children have been hospitalized following incidents at the pool.
“There have been no ‘near drownings,’ ” she said. “There have been only three incidents we are aware of where a child went underwater and took in some water, and were then immediately removed from the pool and attended to with either a slap on the back or beginning of a rescue breathing maneuver. Standard policy is to transport the child to the hospital for observation.”
In all three cases, the children were being supervised by adults nearby, she said.
One of the incidents happened during a swim session that was part of the hotel’s Just for Kids program in May 2007, Palmer said. The incident prompted the hotel to cancel pool visits as part of that program, in which parents can enroll their children in various activities for a fee.
The two other incidents involving children at the pool happened in April 2009, Palmer said.
Following the incidents pool procedures were reviewed by the U.S. Army Garrison Garmisch Safety Office. The review resulted in a reduction in pool capacity from 87 to 70 swimmers and more prominant signage informing parents about the lack of a lifeguard and the need to supervise children, she said.
Edelweiss guest David Pippin, who sat at a poolside table while his children splashed in the water on New Year’s Day, said the new safety measures seemed reasonable but that he’d like to see a lifeguard on duty.
Palmer said Edelweiss meets or exceeds all safety regulations for hotel pools in Germany.
Those regulations state that pools less than 4-feet-6-inches deep do not need lifeguards.
“The best policy for assurance of child safety in the pool is one-on-one, immediate parent-to-child supervision,” Palmer said.
U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command public affairs officer Jeffrey Castro said an investigation into the child’s death is ongoing but that he would not release any more details.