Problem Solver - August 2008
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Outfitting Your Pool & Lifeguards for Safety

Safety is a top concern at pools and aquatic facilities across the country. There are more than 3,000 accidental drowning deaths every year, but if you equip your facility—and your lifeguards—properly, you'll be able to ensure your pool does not become another statistic.

Q: How can I ensure my lifeguards are equipped and ready for the job?

A: While every facility has different requirements, your state or local health department might have recommendations or rules on the ratio of lifeguards to swimmers, so you should check there first. Once you have the right number of lifeguards, you'll want to equip them with lifesaving equipment as well as proper chairs to allow them to view what's going on the water.

Once they're working though, they shouldn't just sit there. Various factors will impact surveillance—the kinds of activity taking place in the water, the number and age of the swimmers, water depth, etc.—and to be effective lifeguards must remain on active alert.

Q: What kind of safety equipment should I have on hand?

A: Check with the American Red Cross and your local health department for standards in your area. The basics include a pole, rope and a personal flotation device, but you should also provide fully stocked first aid kits, back boards, head immobilizers, CPR masks, neck braces, safety hooks, reaching poles, life rings and rescue tubes.

Resuscitating equipment may also be a necessity, and some areas require facilities to have AEDs—automatic external defibrillators—on hand. These can be used by anyone following the instructions on the AED to help treat an arrhythmia that could lead to cardiac arrest.

You also should consider including a biohazard cleanup kit. This will allow for quick cleanup of possible blood-borne pathogens and infectious waste. A complete kit should include latex gloves, mouth and face mask, liquid treatment system, waste scoops, disinfectant wipes, biohazard waste bag and instructions for use.

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