Safeguard Aquatic Facilities

By N. Jonas Ohrberg

Thousands of families, including children and the elderly, visit municipal pools and water parks every year seeking a fun and relaxing experience. Although providing such an environment can be a challenge, managers know that a safe experience is based on adequate training for staff, safe staff practices, and proper lifeguard and emergency equipment. In addition to these factors, one must also consider the legal ramifications of failing to adhere to such policies.

Photos Courtesy Valerie Burkette

From the moment a visitor enters an aquatic facility, lifeguards and staff members are required to be concerned with visitors’ safety, including the entry and exit ways to the facility, locker rooms, walkways, and, of course, the pool areas. Although this can be a daunting task, it must be a priority; it is not only the right thing to do, but a legal responsibility to ensure a safe experience. This responsibility should be a mindset and a daily practice, which includes training lifeguards properly, having proper emergency equipment, and adhering to sound, daily staff practices. 

Document Training

There is an abundance of emergency equipment available on the market. Proper equipment is necessary, but the lifeguards and facility personnel must have the proper training to use it. For liability purposes, this training must also be documented. Although the cost to provide equipment and training is significant, it should be considered an investment; legal issues and potential remedies can be extraordinarily expensive, but it is ultimately cheaper to take preventive measures to manage a safe aquatic facility. 

Look To Lifeguards

Lifeguards must also realize the importance of their position. Due to the nature of an aquatic center’s seasons and the position, lifeguards are often young. Age does not mean that lifeguards are less responsible or incompetent, but they must recognize this position has significant responsibilities in considering the safety of the children, families, and the elderly. Lifeguards must be trained on the essential functions of the position and their equipment, as well as how to effectively use emergency equipment. With this in mind, management needs to develop training material and practices that will be relevant and that will prove satisfactory in the case of a lawsuit. It is also appropriate to consider the input from a legal advisor or attorney regarding the viability of a lifeguard-training program before it is implemented.     

To determine potential risks to the visitors of an aquatic facility, management must monitor lifeguard practices on a regular basis, as well as note how the safety/emergency equipment is utilized. All aquatic personnel who interact with the public should be included in this training. The training needs to be documented to establish that a reasonable effort has been made to maintain safe practices at the facility.       

Accidents As Teaching Tools

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Managing Aquatic Facilities
  2. Think Ahead
  3. Aquatic Management Training
  4. Aquatic Safety Audits
  5. Swim Lessons
  • Columns
  • Departments