Gearing Up for Pool Safety

Managing risk at your aquatic facility is a complex task. You must ensure your lifeguards are well-trained, you need to keep a close eye on water quality and equipment operations—the list of tasks goes on and on. One critical step to ensuring safety at your pool is providing a plan—and the right equipment—in case something does happen, and training your staff on what to do in these situations.

Q: How do I know my lifeguards are ready and equipped?

A: In addition to hiring certified lifeguards, you need to provide ongoing training to make sure their skills stay fresh.You also need to make sure you have the right ratio of lifeguards to swimmers. A single lifeguard cannot see everyone in a large pool. Your state of local health department may have recommendations or rules covering the ratio of lifeguards to swimmers.

You'll also want to make sure your lifeguards are well equipped with the tools they need to keep an eye on swimmers. For example, you need proper lifeguard chairs to give them an overview of your pool. But just because you provide them a chair, that doesn't mean they should sit around. Effective lifeguards must be on the alert, constantly reassessing the impact of various factors on their ability to watch out for problems. These factors might include the kinds of activity taking place (a few bathers swimming laps versus a pool full of kids at play), the number and age of the swimmers, the depth of the water and so on.

Q: What equipment do I need to be able to respond quickly to problems?

A: Standards vary, so you should check with the American Red Cross and your local health department. To start with, you should have a pole, rope and personal flotation device. Fully stocked first aid kits are also a must. You also should consider back boards, head immobilizers, CPS masks, neck braces, safety hooks, reaching poles, life rings and rescue tubes.

Some areas require facilities to have AEDs—automatic external defibrillators. They come with simple instructions so anyone can help treat an arrhythmia that could lead to cardiac arrest.

A biohazard cleanup kit will be helpful in case you need to clean up infectious waste. A complete kit comes with gloves, mouth and face mask, liquid treatment system, waste scoops, disinfectant wipes, biohazard waste bag and instructions.

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