Everyone Certified: If you are guarding, you need to be certified as a lifeguard. If you are teaching swimming and assessing competencies, you need to be certified.

If you require all staff to be certified in First Aid and CPR, then they need to be certified. Certification is a qualification for a job in aquatics.

Best Practice: When someone applies for staff positions, review their certifications. If they are hired, certifications should be verified with the organizations awarding them and photocopies of the originals should be kept in their employment files.

When required by law, the age of the applicant must also be verified (if work permits are required, applicants cannot become employees until the work permits are on file).

Job Descriptions: As the aquatics director you need a job description. So does everyone else with responsibility for the waterfront programs.

A basic job description defines the position or job function, defines the minimal qualifications and details the expectations for the person holding the position through the use of job segments, each with measurable outcomes.

Best Practice: Everyone has a job description that clearly defines their overall function, qualifications required to hold the position, and performance expectations.

Play By the Rules: There are rules set by government (federal, state, and local), rules set by your organization, and even rules set by you and your staff.

Follow these rules, mentor your staff and model appropriate safe behavior whenever you are in or around the aquatics area. Make your rules a list of things to do because they create a safe environment for everyone.

Best Practice: Swimmers (and staff) should be nurtured and rewarded for playing safe. They should understand why the rules exist, and they should aspire to comply.

If someone is putting their own self or others at risk, then perhaps some time out of the water, to reflect on the nature of the infraction, is in order. But don’t misuse activities and punishment, like taking an activity that should be a good thing and using it as punishment (countless swimmers have been punished for inappropriate behavior using a distance swim or the butterfly stoke as the misused tool).

Be Prepared: Risk management is a critical component to a successful year. Technically, certifications and rules also fall under risk management. However, they are each important enough to have their own sections. Other risks requiring management include, but may not be limited to:

• Access and egress to the area (fences, gates, etc).

• Check-in/check-out systems (tag boards, buddy systems, etc.).

• Clearly defined swim areas (beginner, intermediate and advanced, etc.) with appropriate access and egress (ladders, ramps, etc.).

• Safe docks and floats for waterfronts (all surfaces are free of sharp edges, top surface is safe to walk on when wet, docks and floats are easily accessed from water, etc.)

• Regular checks for water quality (cleanliness, turbidity, etc.) and dangerous aquatic life (at waterfronts).

• Regular checks for water temperature and air temperature to best inform decisions regarding the duration and/or exposure to the water/air during programs/special events.

• Regular checks for changes in the water (tides, currents, etc.).

• Lifeguards on duty and at ready, throughout all aquatic activities (open swims, swim lessons, etc.).

• Emergency procedures posted, practiced, and followed for accidents/incidents, lost bathers, and weather (thunder/lightning, hail, etc.).

• Emergency warning systems (alarms, horns, bells, etc.) are readily available with the various warning patterns understood by everyone.

• All emergency equipment for any accident/incident is readily available and adequately maintained and all staff is properly instructed regarding their use.

• As appropriate, swimmers on a restricted activity level or with other health issues should be clearly identified to all staff (while at the same time maintaining required levels of confidentiality).

• Telephone of some type is available to provide ready access to 911 emergencies and all staff is properly instructed regarding how to manage a 911 emergency telephone call.

• Safe storage of all aquatics equipment when not in use and safe use of all equipment when being used will further support the equipment maintenance and length of service.

• Use of flotation devices should be clearly regulated and supervised.

Can you find a safe place for eyeglasses and other personal belongings that cannot or should not be left elsewhere (retainers, medical alert bracelets/pendants and other personal items)? Where do swimmers put their towels, shoes, and other clothes?

Best Practice: Manage the risks, and reward those staff who identify new risks or solve risk challenges.

Know Your Aquatic Programs and Governing Organizations: Besides open swims and swim lessons you will likely be responsible for other types of aquatic programming.

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  5. The Facility Audit, Part 2
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