For Safety’s Sake

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / elvinstar

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / elvinstar

awareness, including mannequin drops, live-action guest rescues, and exercises in which a lifeguard tells a supervisor what he or she actually sees in the scan. These methods are effective tools in evaluating how lifeguards recognize potentially dangerous situations in their areas of responsibility. 

Another way to increase lifeguard attentiveness is to institute a communication policy that stipulates the length of time (typically 3 to 5 seconds) that a lifeguard should communicate with a guest before it’s necessary to summon a supervisor to help. Lifeguards should not be chatting with friends, carrying on conversations with guests, or assisting children in putting on life jackets. 

Facility Issues

Issues of cloudy water, blind spots, or surface glare abound in the water-park industry. These issues can become challenging—and dangerous—if they are not rectified. Most parks experience cloudy water at some point during a season. Usually these situations cannot be avoided and occur quickly, but the operator still must ensure that the park has a policy in place. 

  • How cloudy is too cloudy?
  • Who makes the decision to shut down an attraction, or the entire pool?
  • How is the information relayed to guests? 

Remember, if the bottom of the pool is visibly obscured or unable to be seen from the lifeguard’s vantage point, the pool should be closed immediately. 

Depending on the time of day and the position of the sun, blind spots and surface glare can occur just as quickly as cloudy water. Plan for this by ensuring that each part of a lifeguard’s zone of protection is always visible no matter the time of day. Lifeguard stands or positions may need to be shifted depending on the conditions, but the most important task is for operators to be looking for glare and blind spots. 

This article has merely touched the surface on risk-management in the water-park and aquatic world. But by promoting adult supervision, ensuring lifeguard recognition and attentiveness, and paying close attention to facility issues, you will be well on your way to a safe and successful season.  

Nicole Van Winkle contributed to this report.  

George Deines is the Aquatics Manager for the City of Garland, Texas. He holds degrees from the University of North Texas and Dallas Theological Seminary, and is an E&A lifeguard instructor. He is a member of the WWA Public Sector and Safety Committees, and is the president of the North Texas Aquatics Association.

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Related posts:

  1. Aquatic Safety Audits
  2. Think Ahead
  3. Are Your Lifeguards Adequately Trained?
  4. “Grade A” Lifeguard
  5. Day-Camp Excursions

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