Supplement Feature - October 2017
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Thrills & Spills

Risk Management for Waterparks & Splash Parks

By Deborah L. Vence

Along with testing water readings, the staff documents equipment readings, such as the chemical controller readings (making sure probes are reading correctly), filter readings, flow rate readings and UV (ultraviolet light) unit dosage readings, just to name a few, in order to make sure all equipment is working properly.

Koyle also said the resort uses documents to report AFRs (Accidental Fecal Releases).

"We follow CDC guidelines and we fill out the document on our state of Wisconsin form for AFRs. The pool or spa is shut down immediately when an AFR is noticed. We use the CT value on the closure time after the AFR is cleaned up," she said. "If it's diarrhea, we will up the chlorine to 20ppm and keep the pool or spa closed for 12.75 hours."

Also, "We will make sure to keep the attraction and if the pool has slides pumps running throughout the whole required CT value time. This is important to relay to other parks. The circulation pumps always run 24/7, and if the pool also has any feature or slide pumps, we will make sure those stay on for the full 12.75 hours," she said. "Throughout the 12.75 hours we will check the pool/spa chemicals to make sure we are maintaining the 20ppm and the pH has to be at a 7.5 or below."

Pools are vacuumed, too, which enables you to clean under the skimmer lids, clean the skimmer housings, skimmer baskets and tiles on a daily basis.

"We operate at the proper chlorine, combine chlorine and pH levels required by the state of Wisconsin. Operating at the proper levels eliminates the risk from some waterborne illnesses," she noted.

Kalahari Resorts also follows CDC guidelines on AFRs, and has signs at the children's pools, stating that children need to wear swim diapers. Equally important is the training of staff with lifeguards, operations supervisors and maintenance on AFRs, and cleaning of tiles and pool equipment.

Lifeguarding Trends

The job of ensuring water safety also falls, in part, on the shoulders of lifeguards who are charged with the task of closely supervising swimming pools and splash play areas at waterparks.

Steffens, who provides program support and product development for the Red Cross swimming and water safety programs including Lifeguarding, Learn-to-Swim, Safety Training for Swim Coaches and Small Craft Safety, noted that in 2015, the American Red Cross released its Aquatic Attraction Lifeguarding course in order to provide the industry with an entry-level training program for those working in areas with water depths of 3 feet or less.

  • Aquatic Attraction Lifeguards are trained to help prevent and respond to emergencies at facilities with aquatic attractions (waterparks, play areas, slides, lazy rivers, etc.) in water up to 3 feet deep.
  • Aquatic Attraction Lifeguards are also trained in First Aid and CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers (at the same level as Lifeguards who are trained to guard deep water).
  • While Aquatic Attraction Lifeguards do not perform water rescues in water deeper than 3 feet, they are also trained to assist lifeguards with extrication (removing a drowning person) from deep water.

Friscia added that facilities are looking at ways to be more efficient while maintaining strict safety standards.

"The infusion of innovation in some areas," he said, "has been positively received since it's been stagnated and neglected for years."

The introduction of training that focuses on slide operations over the past few years has had an impact and is extremely important.

"A large percentage of injuries in an aquatic environment occur because of operator error on slides and attractions vs. other aquatic areas," Friscia said. "Dispatch training (initial and continual), technology and operational planning needs to happen at every facility regardless of size and scope."

The mandate of lifejacket usage in areas such as wave pools and lazy/action rivers for specific height limits is a trend that continues to grow.

"Seeing other industries [that] have traditionally not had lifeguards now utilizing trained staff to provide lifeguard services will have a big impact on aquatic safety for those organizations and industries overall," he said.

"Hopefully," he added, "the awareness of the importance of employing differing layers of aquatic safety will continue to grow throughout the aquatic world."