For Added Aquatic Security

2. Give parents, guardians and non-swimmers written and verbal site-specific water-safety instructions. Also provide information about swimming lessons at the facility for the non-swimmers. Many facilities that have initiated the program have also noted a corresponding increase in swim-lesson enrollment.

3. Mandate that supervisors must be within an arm’s reach in the water with the banded non-swimmers wearing lifejackets. Supervisors should be at least 16 years of age. Non-swimmers must remain in designated shallow-water areas.

4. Non-swimmers between 7 and 12 years old must wear an identifying wristband and lifejacket, and must also be supervised, but supervisors do not necessarily need to be within an arm’s reach. Depending on the facility, they may be able to access deeper water.

5. Anyone wishing to access deep water without a lifejacket must pass a swim test established by the facility.

6. Use signage as well as written and verbal instructions to stress the importance of lifejackets. Emphasize that wearing a lifejacket is just as important for non-swimmers as wearing a seatbelt in a car.

Distractions are commonplace. With the popularity of handheld technology, supervision may become even more compromised in the future. Although some critics suggest that the use of lifejackets will lead to a sense of false security and overconfidence, both on the part of non-swimmers and supervisors, drowning in a lifejacket is almost impossible.

Before initiating the program at your facility, consider the following:

• Promote and market the program in advance so the rationale for the program can be fully explained and questions answered.

• The worst-case scenario for the program is running out of lifejackets. Every attempt must be made to have more than an adequate supply for individuals of all ages and sizes.

• Colorful vinyl or plastic-covered lifejackets last longer, and are easier to maintain than older, more-traditional fabric-covered lifejackets.

This program will not only protect non-swimmers from drowning, but it will also allow supervisors and managers of aquatic facilities to sleep better at night.

Dr. Tom Griffiths is the President of the Aquatic Safety Research Group, LLC, providing educational materials and programs to reduce aquatic risks and hazards. During his 40-year career, he has written several textbooks, produced videos and written hundreds of articles. He also serves as an Expert Witness in aquatic litigation.

Rachel Griffiths, a communication specialist, is a research assistant with the Aquatic Safety Research Group. In addition to maintaining the website, she also assists Clarion Safety in placing and promoting their program throughout the country.

For more information, visit www.aquaticsafetygroup.com.

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