Aquatic Safety Review, Part 3

Part 1, which ran in the February issue, focused on structures and the pool environment, and Part 2, which ran in the March issue, focused on electrical and mechanical engineering.

Related Article: Tracking Rick

Comparing these points to your own safety checklist may be a useful way to update your own policies and procedures. As you review both this material and your own checklist, feel free to forward your ideas so we can all be informed as we work toward safety and risk management planning/implementation that will ensure participant and staff safety in our collective facilities.

Lifeguard Stations & Equipment

1. Lifeguard stations (and chairs): Because of issues with natural lighting indoors (windows) and the varying position of the sun (outdoors) there can be positions about the pool area where lifeguards, whether stationed standing or sitting, may not be able to adequately see all of the pool.

Having the lifeguards stationed in a permanently located chair versus a portable chair may not be a good idea, depending on the how the lighting changes during the day. The daily patterns of natural light/sun can help dictate where a permanent chair might be placed (so as to ensure good visibility of the pool area, the water’s surface and below the water). A portable chair provides flexibility to meet the changing needs of a particular facility.

Additionally, and to improve on participant safety, it is important that lifeguards are clearly and easily identifiable and that they are always positioned in effective locations for their work.

This may mean that the lifeguards do not remain stationary, but remain on the move around the pool while guarding the pool, or it may mean that more than one lifeguard is positioned in two or more places around the pool to adequately ensure participant safety given both the lighting quality, and bather load/pool usage.

2. Lifeguard equipment, such as ring buoys (for throwing), reaching poles, rescue tubes, and backboards (for head and neck injuries), respirators, AEDs, etc.: The lifeguard equipment must be in excellent condition and positioned about the aquatic facility so that it is readily available for use in an emergency.

Participants should be made aware of the purpose of such equipment and aquatic staff should be thoroughly trained and regularly practice emergency procedures.

All aquatic facilities must take good care of their equipment. However, outdoor facilities might well consider securing all rescue equipment every time the facility is closed to ensure that a ring buoy doesn’t end up hanging on someone’s bedroom wall somewhere.

Regular inspection of the integrity of all rescue equipment should be done annually (immediately prior to opening a seasonal facility), and any questionable equipment replaced rather than being put back into service.

3. The placement of equipment is to some extent dictated by the design of the facility and direct and easy access to the pool. Rescue equipment that can be used to reach or throw (reaching poles and ring buoys) can be placed at lifeguard stations (either portable or permanent) or in locations within a few feet of lifeguard positions, so as to be immediately available for use.

Many facilities have their lifeguards on foot, holding a rescue tube and ready to react. Although the rescue tube can be used over short distances to reach or even throw, it is most often used to assist a distress or drowning person in a manner that helps buoy the victim up, improving the probability of a successful assist or rescue.

Because there are differences between distress and drowning victims, aquatic staff needs to know that sometimes seconds mean the difference between life and death.

A distress victim can be quickly aided when the proper equipment is immediately adjacent to the water; a few steps from all swimming or diving areas.

In the case of a drowning victim, the lifeguard will need to enter the water, and having a rescue tube with them at all times facilitates this action.

Once the victim is below the surface or on the bottom, any saving of seconds can significantly improve the outcome of the rescue. As drowning victims can slip beneath the surface without even calling for help, lifeguards must be vigilant in their surveillance responsibilities in an attempt to never let this happen.

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Related posts:

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