Pool Safety in Numbers
Boasting an aquatic facility within your club can be beneficial for memberships. Swimming provides members with a great cardiovascular, low-impact workout, as well as being a sport families can share for some fun. But, pools are also a place of risk, where things can easily go wrong.
According to Seth Hazen, the director of aquatics at Active Sports Clubs in California, there are three common safety issues: lack of parental supervision for children, swimmers not being pool tested before entering deeper water areas and swimmers not following proper lane etiquette.
The good news is there are several steps to increase pool safety and decrease liability. First, ensure the facilities are compliant with federal and local regulations, install life-saving equipment and finally, hire sufficient staffing to monitor the pool.
For Hazen, staffing is a number one priority. “We modify our staffing models based on the types of aquatic centers we manage,” explained Hazen. “For the family-oriented, community-center-type club we have fully lifeguarded facilities, meaning we have lifeguards on duty all hours our pools are open. For our adult-oriented clubs that have family components, we restrict family activities to designated times and schedule lifeguards during those and other high-use times.”
Staff training is also a crucial element to pool safety. Certification requirements vary based on job function. Hazen requires all aquatic staff to be CPR/AED certified as a minimum, but lifeguards must maintain other nationally regarded certifications as well.
“Whether it’s lifeguards, swim instructors, coaches or Aqua Aerobics instructors, they all need on-going – in many cases monthly – training,” said Hazen. “This gives your team the necessary skills and confidence to be proactive in situations and reactive when an issue does arise.”
To ensure he hires the most highly qualified staff, Hazen starts the interview process the instant the potential employee walks through the door. An outgoing, engaging personality is essential, as well as the ability to problem solve under pressure. “I find it is almost as important as the actual interview in watching how a potential employee interacts with your front desk and members before the interview starts,” explained Hazen.
However, staffing is not the only way to safeguard your pools. Making sure members are familiar with the pool policies helps. Active Sports Club offers monthly drop-in orientations for a wide range of departments to provide new members with the opportunity to ask questions before they ever use the pool.
Being proactive is the best way to prevent problems. Limiting liability starts before an accident occurs. “If you have laid the groundwork by providing regular, monthly documented in-service trainings, with scenario practice, you will put your team in the best position by giving them the tools and confidence to handle an accident when it does occur.”