You have probably heard the expression “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”  The same is true with aquatic facility safety: you never get a second chance to prevent an accident. For the sake of brevity, this article will touch on some of the main components that must be identified and addressed. The first consideration is to make sure the facility has a “Policy and Procedure Manual” that is easily accessible and is kept up to date.  Second, be sure the Emergency Action Plan is also accessible and practical.
Pool rules: Rules such as no running, no diving or jumping, no horseplay and no glass in pool area are common. There are professional signs that can be purchased from pool dealers and posted throughout the facility, or you can have your own made. Regardless, the rules need to be posted and enforced.
Pool covers:  Make sure all covers have “Drowning Risk” warning labels clearly visible. Other warnings include “never swim alone,” “never enter a pool that has been closed” and “never walk near or on a pool that is covered.” 
Diving and jumping: Signs must be adequately posted that prohibit head first entries or jumping feet first into water of any depth unless the person has professional supervision. Different organizations have adopted different depth guidelines for head first entry into a pool. The Risk Management position should be to have swimmers sit down and slide in the water or use the stairs or ramp to walk into the water.
Pool chemicals and equipment: These are dangerous and caustic. Accidental exposure can be fatal. All cleaning liquids and pool chemicals in concentrated form are both hazardous and poisonous. Keep all of the patrons away from chemicals; allow only certified pool operators to have access to the chemicals.
Electrical safety: The state safety codes from the Departments of Public Health require all outlets be protected by Ground Fault Interrupters (GFI’s). Even though these are required, only battery operated devices should be on the pool deck or near the water. A routine maintenance schedule should be kept to document the inspection of all equipment that is part of the pool or facility operation.
Emergencies: Be safe rather than sorry. Make sure your emergency action plan is practical and applicable.  Two of the more common circumstances that must be addressed are thunder storms and high winds. If the pool is outdoors, clear the pool immediately and keep all patrons away from fences, the water and steel beams in buildings. If the pool is indoors, there are some decisions to be made. High winds require a plan to move patrons to the safest part of the building. Lightning necessitates clearing the pool if it has not been properly grounded or if the pool has windows that overlook the water. 
Staffing: All staff needs to be safety trained, certified and trained in the implementation of the facilities Emergency Action Plan. Regular Risk Management in-service training is also recommended.
Equipment: Some of the things that should be on site are:

  • Cell telephones for use on deck
  • Pool rules posted
  • Emergency action plans and safety routes
  • Chemical storage and employee only access 
  • MSDS (material safety data sheets) sheets on all chemicals
  • CPR and Safety certifications posted for all staff members
  • Lifesaving, First Aid and safety equipment (AED needs to be considered)
  • Water test reports and equipment safety logs updated and checked

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