Aquatic Safety Audits

How many times have you visited a swimming pool, water park, or beachfront and noticed the lifeguards on duty?

Make sure your lifeguards are properly equipped at all times.

What about their appearance made you realize they were there protecting the guests?

Was it the shirt, the hat, the whistle, the big red tube they were carrying, or just the way they kept telling everyone to stop running? A quick list of the equipment that every lifeguard must have includes:

• A whistle for communication

• Glare-resistant sunglasses

• A hat for sun protection

• A hip-pack with gloves

• A barrier-mask to assist during first aid or breathing emergencies

• Shoes that enable a rapid response to potential dangers

• A rescue tube that has to be worn and carried a specific way.

Even shirts with an enhanced lifeguard logo assist a person in recognizing who should be contacted if assistance is needed.

From a visitor’s perspective, it is assumed lifeguards know how to use all the facility’s safety equipment. For an administrator or supervisor whose number-one priority is making sure swimmers and lifeguards go home safely, this is a full-time job.

Get It In Order

Emergency-equipment care and control begins well before a facility opens. In today’s world of stringent documentation and an expected standard of care, it is vital that an aquatic facility begin by implementing:

• Strong processes that include firm and specific checklists

• A chain of command for safety concerns

• A posted and rehearsed emergency-action plan that includes the use of each piece of safety equipment, such as backboards, ring buoys, ADA-compliant lifts, bullhorns, flares, warning signage, etc.

The emergency-action plan also should include all items in a jump or crash bag that could be used during an emergency situation. This plan includes inspecting the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and each set of shocking pads, oxygen tanks, breathing-assistance apparatus, suction devices, barrier devices such as gloves or masks, and any other relevant items.

The checklist needs to be as precise as possible. It is simply not enough to have a check box with “AED in good condition,” and then expect the employee to provide anything but a subjective “Yes.” Instead, the checklist should outline common maintenance concerns:

• “AED pads are not expired.”

• “Battery is fully charged.”

• “Case for AED is secure and free from obstruction.”

The checklist should also include a place for comments, where the inspector can share information with the administrator or supervisor. This open and thorough communication is critical from both safety and documentation standpoints.

Aquatic Operations Pre-Opening Inspection Checklist

Gathering Gear

However, creating a thorough checklist is not sufficient; the document is only effective as the person who uses it. It is imperative that administrators take the time to train all of their staff who will be utilizing the checklist as well as the procedures for reporting abnormalities.

Facility protocol for what is considered a “normal” condition, the manufacturer’s recommended care or replacement instructions, and the location of replacement materials should be included in this training, with a follow-up questionnaire outlining the understanding of the document.

Establishing a standard of systematic processes and expectations for open communication from the top of the organization reinforces to employees the importance of being thorough in inspections, and sets the precedent that safety is the key to successful facilities.

Outfitting Lifeguards

Once the facility equipment has been checked off as “good to go,” and the pools are open for business, be attentive to the staff entrusted with the safety of the patrons. Generally in aquatics, this means the lifeguards.

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