Think Ahead

With respect to river attractions, a lifeguard at each station is responsible for a particular zone. These locations should be determined according to the International Lifeguard Training Program, established by Ellis and Associates, and should follow the 10/20 Protection Rule.

This rule requires that a lifeguard must be able to detect a patron in distress within the first 10 seconds, and then reach the person and render assistance within 20 seconds. Management should consider this rule when making decisions regarding the most effective way to deal with any emergency.

Lifeguards should be monitored and supervised to make certain they are properly discharging their responsibilities.

Instructions, Warnings And Signage

It is the responsibility of the waterpark to provide patrons with appropriate instructions regarding safe use of the facility and attractions. An aquatic environment requires adherence to the highest safety standards and practices because of the potential for drowning.

Management should never assume that patrons are aware of the risk or potential hazards that may be inherent in the attractions. Management must also make certain that patrons comply with instructions and rules for their own safety as well as that of other patrons.

Posting appropriate warning signage throughout the waterpark not only supplements the active supervisory responsibilities of lifeguards, but also will prevent conditions and circumstances that may lead to patron injuries.

Signage should be placed at appropriate and visible locations adjacent to the attractions, and should be location-specific. For instance, signage at sprayparks should indicate that only younger children are allowed to use an attraction to prevent older children from commingling, which generally creates a hazard.

Signs also should provide safety warnings and instructions in a clear and unambiguous manner, eliminating the need for any clarification. Colors should be bold and easily visible. The American National Standards Institute indicates signs should use the word “WARNING” to emphasize that the signage is important and should be read by patrons who will use the attraction.

Leonard K. Lucenko is an aquatic, recreation and sport-safety and risk-management consultant; a certified pool operator and a certified forensic consultant and a member of the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO). He can be reached at or

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  4. Are Your Lifeguards Adequately Trained?
  5. Day-Camp Excursions

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