May – National Water Safety Month – is almost upon us and that means local swimming pools will begin opening accompanied with multiple risks. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, roughly 5,000 children under the age of 14 are hospitalized every year as a result of drowning. OneBeacon Government Risks wants to be your dedicated specialists to help minimize your government entity’s risk, resolve claims and make your community a safer place.
The liability of a pool extends beyond the water, staffing qualified lifeguards with appropriate training is the first step towards a safe pool environment. Below are 6 tips to help safeguard your summer:
- Pre-Employment Screenings: It is vital that the lifeguards you hire are not only trained and certified to perform the job, but also that are physically able to. Here are 4 things to consider before offering someone the job: verify their certification records, conduct a physical screening, conduct a vision screening and offer the Hepatitis B vaccination (this is a requirement by OSHA).
- Certification/Training: There are multiple outside certification organizations for lifeguards including the YMCA, American Red Cross and USLA. However, there can be inconsistencies in these programs, so it is important to also consider in-house training for lifeguards specifically for your unique exposures and procedures. This not only ensures the lifeguards have the necessary skills to perform their job, but it creates training specific to your facility’s needs.
- Rescue Equipment: No longer are swimming and rescue skills enough. Ensure your lifeguards are equipped with the tools they need to save a life. Suggested rescue equipment includes rescue tubes, rescue buoys, backboard straps and restraints, throw ropes, inflatable rescue tubes, defibrillators, throwable devices and a fully stocked first aid kit.
- Communications: The presence of communications equipment can greatly improve the chances of an incident from escalating to something more severe. Equipment to consider includes telephones, walkie-talkies, horn and whistles.
- Alertness: Lifeguards can become easily fatigued while on guard. To help keep your lifeguards alert, provide them with shade, clothes and sunglasses that reduce sun exposure. Use 20-30 minute rotation schedules and recommend they change their position (stand, sit, kneel on one knee) every 5-10 minutes.
- Visiting Groups: Laws vary by state. Some states require the host pool to provide lifeguards. In any case, make sure to check what your state’s laws are in regards to visiting groups and lifeguards at a pool.
For more information, visit www.nationalwatersafetymonth.org. There you will find additional tips, free resources, a safe swimmer’s pledge, and much more!
To learn more about how OneBeacon Government Risks can help you manage risks, please contact us at OBGRRiskControl@onebeacongov.com.