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Feature Article - January 2005

Potentially Dangerous When Wet

Aquatic risk management red flags

By Stacy St. Clair


When it comes to risk management, pool managers need to dive right in. Pools and waterparks, perhaps more than any type of recreation facility, are particularly susceptible to injuries and subsequent liability claims. The ongoing aquatic safety issues need to be addressed with both frequency and intensity.

But rather than talk about the same tired topics, we're putting a fresh face on five risk management areas.

We'll look at making your ladders as safe as the local playgrounds and the surprisingly few number of drinks it takes to impair diving. We'll also examine quelling the spread of recreational water illnesses and preventing drain entrapment.

And, perhaps most importantly, we'll offer tips at identifying potential sexual predators. Your pool and your patrons are more vulnerable to sexual abuse than you probably realize.

The biggest challenge, however, is addressing the safety issues while keeping the spotlight on aquatic recreation. Swimming, water fitness and other aquatic sports play a vital role in combating heart disease, diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses.

To lose that focus would be as detrimental to the public as ignoring the risk management issues outlined in this article.

"It's imperative to keep in mind that we don't want to scare people away from pools," says Tom Lachocki, director of the National Swimming Pool Foundation. "Pools are helping people exercise. Pools are saving lives."

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