Effective Risk Management for Aquatic Facilities
By: Ashley Ingram, Assistant Director of Aquatics and Risk Management, The University of Memphis
As we begin this summer season, risk management is one of the top priorities for aquatic facilities. Having an effective risk management plan in place is essential for aquatic facilities to ensure the safety of their members, guest, and program participants. Aquatic professionals must make sure their pools have the correct number of lifeguards, proper zone sizes, the right equipment and a plan in place for anything that may go wrong. Here are a few tips that can help you prepare for this summer.
Know Your Potential Risks
Each facility is different, and it’s up to you to know what potential hazards at your facility look like. Do you have a spot on your pool deck where you have had multiple slip and falls? Is there a broken tile in your pool where several people have cut their toe on? Look around your aquatic facility and make a list of anything and everything that could be potentially dangerous. Create a plan of action for those areas.
Practice Makes Perfect
Lifeguards go through an intense 30-hour training to get certified, but that can’t be the end of their learning experience. The next step is regular facility-specific trainings. The American Red Cross recommends AT LEAST 4 hours a month for in-service training. If you haven’t looked at your annual training calendar and made updates to it in the past few years, now is the time to do it. Lifeguards should not only practice those general skills learned in training, but they should be using this time to prepare for ANYTHING that may happen in your facility. Have you practiced a spinal rescue in your hot tub? Have your guards trained on giving CPR through the foam and throw up of a drowning victim? Have you run through your EAPs for an active shooter, a tornado, or a fire in the building? Make a list of anything that could possibly go wrong, make a plan, and set up practice time for your team to run through multiple scenarios.
Record Keeping is Essential
Keeping good records is essential in protecting a facility against potential lawsuits. Documentation of maintenance records, inventory, and training schedules all play an important role in risk management. With the technology today, record keeping is a lot easier than it has been in the past. From check list for opening and closing duties, chemical logs, incident reports, and even in-service training records can all be kept in one place with easy access to reports and charts that could be needed later. Using an app like HydroApps or Digiquatics or creating your own record keeping system will help you keep your records organized and easily accessible.
As an Aquatic Professional, you have the duty to protect the health and safety of your team, members, and pool guests. Having an effective risk management plan for your facility is important. By Identifying potential risks, creating a plan, having staff practice it, and keeping daily records, you can provide a safe and fun environment for everyone at your aquatic facility.