Shallow Trouble?

Shallow Trouble?


Posted By on Feb 19, 2014

With large aquatics centers and waterparks increasing in popularity — many featuring zero-depth entries, splash pads and more shallow-water attractions — more and more people are able to experience and enjoy water in new ways.  But are you staying away from Shallow trouble? However, this also presents new challenges to pool and waterpark visitors, who mistakenly think they aren’t at risk of drowning at a shallow depth or with moving water. Many guests, often adults and adolescents, are non-swimmers and don’t even know it. This is a scary scenario for any aquatics operator. Large waves in the wave pool, currents in the lazy rivers, and the disorientation associated with going down slides with twists and turns, often is underestimated and can present a huge danger. As an aquatics director, we’ve seen a 50 percent increase in adult assists and active saves in the past six years. In many cases, lifeguards are helping a person who is taller than the water depth in which he or she is getting rescued. The embarrassed, but grateful, patron often offers a common explanation, “I lost my footing and panicked.” In these cases, lifeguards often help the person merely stand up. This lack of respect of the water can potentially place children at greater risk, too. Parents or camp counselors are less attentive because the water is shallow. The vast majority of the active saves of children now have been related to an unattended child who got into water that was too deep. Well-intentioned parents or counselors may tell a child to stay in the shallow area. But those of us who work in aquatics know the lure of activity pools’ many features are just too enticing for kids to resist. They easily wander and explore — often to deeper water. Similarly, lifeguards sometimes need to rescue a child wearing a Coast Guard-approved safety vest. While safety vests are wonderful tools for parents to help protect their children, they are no substitution for adult supervision and often provide a false sense of security. I’ve seen children wearing life jackets incorrectly needing assistance. More frequently, children are unable to roll from front to back or vice versa while wearing the life jackets, resulting in submerged mouths and noses. Because of the increased saves related to the misconception that shallow water is without safety risk, consider some of the following basic operational procedures as a start toward reducing the risk and combating the problem: 1 Maintain accurate signage. Warn all swimmers that slides and attractions can cause disorientation and that “shallow” water is equally as dangerous as deep water because of changing depths, currents and other...

Read More