Jacket Required

Jacket Required


Posted By on Feb 19, 2014

Life jacket required.  Over the years, we have experienced a great deal of criticism from guests, and even fellow aquatic managers, for policies requiring life jackets for younger guests. But despite the flak I’ve taken over this policy, I’ve stuck to it and will continue to do so. I urge all aquatic facilities to adopt similar policies. After all, children in every state are required to wear seat belts and/or be in car seats at a certain age. In many states, helmets are required when riding a bicycle. These laws are for children’s welfare. So it goes with our life jacket policy, which states that an adult 18 years or older must be present with a child under 48 inches tall, and that child must wear a life jacket in all water attractions. In other words, a 10-year-old sibling, cannot take a 6-year-old down a slide without a parent. This life jacket policy puts responsibility of the child’s care squarely back on the adult, which allows us to run a aquatic facility and not have to “baby-sit” a single child. Too harsh? Not when you consider that a life jacket is sometimes the only thing standing between drowning and safety. In fact, I like to think of our life jacket policy as a safety net because mistakes happen, whether from lifeguards or parents. And because aquatic facilities can get crowded, life jackets make even more sense. For instance, our facility is popular with camp groups, which come from a three-state area. These groups include inner-city youth programs, which bring in children who don’t know how to swim. Indeed, it is not uncommon for our staff to be asked if it is OK for non-swimmers to go down the slides. Even with all these very good reasons to enforce a life jacket policy, we encounter resistance. Here’s how we have dealt with it at our facility with much success: Provide free life jackets around the facility (excluding infant life jackets). Rent infant life jackets, with a full refund upon return Sell life jackets to those who want them. (You may be surprised how many people choose this option). Allow guests to bring their own life jackets, as long as they are Coast Guard-approved, and no inflatable of any kind. Put wristbands on guests under 48 inches tall, which are a different color than the over-48 inch bands so attendants and guards have a visual reminder. Don’t allow any under- 48-inch children past the 3-foot line in the pool. Permit infants to ride in a lazy river only if they’re wearing life jackets and are in adults’ laps. And any infant...

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