Aquatic Safety Review, Part 1

Windows (and other natural light): Windows provide aquatic facilities with natural light and can be both inviting and aesthetically pleasing (especially to the staff who are working all day in the pool area).

However, windows also provide indoor aquatic facilities with the potential for heat loss, moisture (condensation) collection, and blind spots when guarding the pool (from certain locations).

Blind spots are caused when the windows’ natural light overwhelms the indoor or underwater lighting, thereby reflecting off the water’s surface and making it very difficult to see anywhere below this reflection.

An opalescent material used in place of windows will limit the glare, but only if the indoor facility lighting is adequate. Underwater lighting can help in such circumstances.

Also, some window coatings can reduce the reflective characteristics of the glass. In situations where there are windows, the indoor aquatic facility staff must always take into account the nature of the above challenges and address them appropriately (see also lifeguard stations below).

Note: HVAC-R systems can be designed to mitigate condensation build-up on windows indoors by installing heating ducts/vents that are directed toward the glass (ideally from below as heat rises). However, whether the heating ducts/vents are at deck height or above the deck level, but below the windows the staff needs to ensure that moisture does not find its way into the ducts/vents!

Worse than heating ducts/vents that blow the heat downward are ducts/vents that can collect water, setting-up the potential for sick building syndrome (where bacteria begins to grow in the ducts/vents and is transported into the facility along with the forced air).

Floors (the pool deck, etc.): The floors/decks should be inspected by staff on a regular basis for places in the deck where water is left standing, moisture condenses (can happen when the floor is colder than the air temperature), the visible presence of mold/mildew, and cracks or changes in expansion seals between walls and deck or the deck and pool (tank).

Staff should also be keenly aware of the deck surface with regard to cleanliness and the absence of anything that might cause harm, such as a hose left out on the deck, deck materials that are wearing or exposing sharp edges, etc.

Broken glass from windows, glass containers, etc. are especially dangerous in pool areas. Glass on the deck needs to be cleaned up meticulously (see also broken glass in the water).

Cleanliness is especially important, and the staff should check some floor areas more frequently than others for reasons of both safety and health…

Shower areas and the hallways leading from showers to pool areas are notorious for a build-up of bacteria that has been inadequately washed off of users prior to leaving the showers, therefore finding its way to the hallway floor. A strong scent of ammonia in these spaces should be a clear indication of the need for immediate cleaning/sanitation.

This same situation occurs where users go in the pool area immediately after showering. Often program participants are asked to report to a corner of the pool deck for instruction prior to entering the water. Over a period of time, these gathering areas will also need spot cleaning (with water and a disinfectant).

Pool: The pool (tank) includes the following physical features: gutter, inlets, outlets (with regard to water recirculation), means of access and egress (ladders, stairs, ramps, lifts, etc.), depth markings (located both on the deck at the pool’s edge and on the interior walls of pool just above the waterline), underwater lights (120V AC or 12V DC, UL listed), etc.

Each of these aspects of the pool needs to be inspected by the aquatic staff and/or pool professionals, on a regular basis. Hazardous issues should be addressed immediately and may require closing the pool. Other concerns may be addressed by a daily/weekly/annual maintenance plan.

Indoor pools (occasionally) and outdoor pools (annually) are drained for thorough cleaning, maintenance, and repair. Repairs to the tank are more easily made when the pool is empty.

However, there are a techniques and materials available to repair missing tiles and/or cracks, even in a pool that is full (contact a professional who specializes in swimming pool repairs).

Water Quality: The aquatic staff needs to assess and record (using appropriate tools, like test kits for sanitation and markings on the pool bottom that assess turbidity) the pool temperature and the water quality, and as required by local health code (usually several times per day).

Many pools maintain water quality with automated systems that test the water as it is filtered and then re-circulated back to the pool.

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Related posts:

  1. Aquatic Safety Review, Part 3
  2. Aquatic Safety Review, Part 2
  3. Safety and Risk Management Checklist
  4. Camp Aquatic Safety
  5. Maintaining Safety
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