Feature Article - November 2006
Find a printable version here

Special Supplement: Problem-Solver Guidebook

By Stacy St. Clair and Emily Tipping

Choosing the Right Aquatic Safety Equipment

Each year, more than 3,000 people die from accidental drowning. While some of these may be unpreventable, aquatic managers must do everything in their power to ensure swimmers' safety. We get you on the right track with answers to some of the industry's most frequently asked questions.

Q: What safety equipment should I have on hand?

A: The American Red Cross and local health departments set these standards. The basic lifesaving equipment includes a pole, rope and personal flotation device. No aquatic facility would be equipped without first-aid kits, back boards, head immobilizers, CPR masks, neck braces, safety hoods, reaching poles, life rings and rescue tubes. You also should have the correct resuscitating equipment in accordance with the Red Cross and your local certifying agency.

Q: What should I stock in my first-aid kit?

A: When it comes to first-aid kits, there's no such thing as being over-prepared. At the very least, make sure it includes the following: bandages of various sizes, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, acetaminophen, non-stick pads in various sizes, burn cream, oval eye pads, health-care gloves, gauze, sponges, eye irrigating solution, cold packs, cloth tape and dispenser, first-aid cream, scissors, tweezers and a first-aid handbook.

Q: What's the recommended ratio for lifeguards to swimmers?

A: The Red Cross—the country's premier certifier of lifeguards—does not make such a recommendation. But your state or local health department might, so you should probably check with them first. Facility managers may want to establish ratios based on many factors that influence patron surveillance, such as activities and structures within the facility.

Q: I want to make my facility as accessible—and safe—as possible for my disabled patrons. What can I do?

A: Fortunately, you have many options. The aquatic industry has made tremendous strides in this area in the past decade. Your best bet for improving access is a pool lift. When selecting a lift, be sure it meets all ADA criteria by having features such as a 16-inch-wide seat, a footrest and unassisted operation capabilities. When purchasing an ADA-compliant lift, however, there are more than just legal guidelines to consider. If you don't have a significant number of patrons with special needs, a portable lift may be the best option. It can be stored easily, therefore allowing more deck space. Portable lifts also are ideal for aquatic centers with multiple water locations, such as a pool and a spa.

Q: How do I make my diving boards as safe as possible?

A: First make sure that there's enough non-slip grit present. You should also check that the bolts and rails are intact. Make a concerted effort to clean the stairs regularly and ensure they're not slippery.

Q: What else can I do to reduce the risk of injury at my aquatic facility?

A: Install "No Running" signage on deck. The deck should have a splash or wet area. Also, the use of sunscreens can result in slick spots. Stay aware of what areas can become slippery from oils and lotions, such as steps into the pool, gutters and the outside of showers, and place appropriate signage in those areas.


   Brock Enterprises: 800-332-2360   

Back to Problem-Solver Guidebook Table of Contents