Aquatic Safety Audits

Since the list of safety items lifeguards are required to carry is extensive, there will be times when items are forgotten, or are not in proper working condition, or are misused. The supervisory staff must be as vigilant in watching the lifeguards as the lifeguards are in protecting the patrons.

One way to ensure a staff member goes “on-stand” with all of the appropriate materials is to have a pre-shift uniform check. One approach to accomplish this is simply to have the staff line up and show the supervisor each piece of equipment, which can then be documented on a checklist and submitted to the administrator to be recorded.

No matter how thorough this pre-shift routine is executed however, some items may be missed. One practice that can be particularly helpful in the routine is the development and use of periodic uniform or safety audits.

The latter audit can test the functionality of a well-chewed whistle, and ensure protective gloves aren’t punctured or ripped, barrier masks are intact, and rescue tubes and straps are in proper working condition. This 2-minute check can be critical in ensuring the emergency action plan can be performed as rehearsed, if needed.

How a facility performs safety audits of emergency equipment, lifeguard rescue-assistance materials, uniforms or documentation is the decision of the administration, and there is no “one right way” to implement the policies. The important things to remember are to:

• Be thorough with created checklists

• Bear in mind these emergency items aren’t meant to last forever, and will need replacing

• Ensure that everyone who is involved in an emergency knows how to use each piece of equipment.

If these procedures are handled successfully, both the staff and the valued patrons who entrust their well-being to the established safety protocols will be well-served.

Adam Blackmore is the Aquatics Manager for the city of Henderson Parks & Recreation in Nevada. He has been in the aquatics industry for eight years working in both the public and private sector. He holds current certifications as a lifeguard training instructor, CPR & First Aid instructor, Certified Pool Operator, and Aquatic Facility Operator, and is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional. He can be reached via email at

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