Make Water Safety your Priority!  Water is an amazing thing… It soothes us. Its serene, sparkling surface invites us in to enjoy a dip, especially on hot summer days. But its allure can be dangerously deceptive. Calm water can hide strong currents, hidden debris, sudden drop-offs into deeper water, and colder temperatures. Such dangers take many lives each year. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, drowning ranks as the number two killer of its most vulnerable victims — children. Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a life guarded beach, always use the buddy system! Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses. Never leave a child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water. Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone. Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests. Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around  including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous. If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning. Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm. Maintain Constant Supervision Actively supervise kids whenever around the water—even if lifeguards are present. Do not just drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach—designate a responsible adult to supervise. Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water. Would You Know What to Do? Emergencies can happen anywhere, anytime. In an aquatic emergency, every second counts. Survival depends on quick rescue and immediate care. How big is the problem? From 2009-2013, there were an average of 3,533 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. An additional 347 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents. About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive...

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Vested Interest!

Vested Interest!


Posted By on Sep 21, 2015

Join USA Management in having a vested interest in child water safety.  There is no way to guarantee a child will be safe in an aquatic environment. However, there are ways to decrease the risks associated with visiting a pool. As aquatics professionals, we constantly teach lifeguards how to respond when someone is in distress, but rarely do we look at what we can do to prevent the situation from occurring in the first place. By using a nationally recognized life jacket program, aquatics facilities will cut its number of water rescues drastically and, in turn, made recreational centers a safer place. Over the course of nine months, our lifeguards entered the water 17 times. While making these rescues, the zones they were responsible for were left minimally supervised and, as a result, put patrons in those areas at risk. Our records indicate that the patrons who were rescued ranged from age 2 to 69, with the highest rescue percentage (76 percent) coming from children under the age of 7 years old. To decrease these incidents, we adopted a modified version of the National Note & Float program. Developed at Penn State University, the goal of Note & Float is to “first identify all nonswimmers who enter the facility, and then ‘float’ those swimmers with an appropriately sized USCG life jacket.” All non-swimmers under 48 inches tall must wear a USCG-approved Type III life jacket and remain within arm’s reach of a supervising adult when in water greater than 24 inches deep. Swimmers under 48 inches tall have the option to pass a swim test to opt out of wearing a life jacket. The swim test includes a 25-yard swim (proficient front crawl with rhythmic breathing), jump into deep water, resurface, and tread water for 1 minute with head above water. After careful consideration, the center chose to adopt the modified Note & Float program for aquatic  parties. Party attendees were chosen as our primary target audience not only because we host a lot of parties (nearly 700), but also due to the high drowning incident rates associated with special events. Since the start of Note & Float, we’ve seen a significant drop in the number of water rescues at our facility (81 percent of water rescues came before the introduction of Note & Float). The program itself has been generally accepted by our patrons, but as expected, there has been some resistance from party participants. Typically, situations arise when parties contain mostly swimmers over 48 inches tall (who do not need to wear a life jacket), but also have a few nonswimmers under 48 inches (who are required to wear life jackets). Parents...

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CHILD SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT

CHILD SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT


Posted By on Mar 28, 2014

CHILD SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT!  Should a guardian elect to remove or not utilize the life jacket, the child should remain within arm’s reach of the guardian at all times. The guardian will be asked to sign a release and liability waiver explaining the child safety policy and the risks associated with the removal of the personal flotation device. Children who pass a swim test are issued a green wristband. The child’s name is documented in the facility Child Safety Log signifying that the child is not required to wear a life jacket or be within arm’s reach. Any child listed on the Child Safety Log can be asked to perform a swim test during any visit should a lifeguard deem it necessary. The CSP was developed to protect the highest risk demographic — young children who cannot swim. We implement the policy at all of our commercial locations, and we have configured it as a contract requirement. In 1978, an individual could drive down the freeway with no seat belt, an open container of alcohol, and their 4-year-old child riding shotgun. Lawmakers have since studied statistics to recognize these actions as dangerous behavior. Therefore, laws were developed prohibiting drinking and driving, requiring the use of a seat belt for all passengers, and obligating a 4-year-old to be placed in a child safety seat located in the back seat of a vehicle. The experts established regulations to protect society and provide comprehension of the do’s and don’ts when driving a car. The state of Texas requires children under the age of 13 to wear a life jacket when on a boat. Seems logical — if the child falls into the water, he or she will be safer with a life jacket. Why would we not want to create the same safety benefits at a swimming pool? There seems to be a false sense of security that is generated because the water is clear and objects can be seen at the bottom. It must be safe, isn’t it? Don’t be foolish, a pool is just as dangerous as the largest ocean and has the ability to steal a life in seconds. It is our duty as aquatics professionals to provide procedures that prevent drowning. We are not here to parent or a guardian we are here to help protect. Children can be elusive and slip away while having a 15-second conversation with a friend at the pool. This doesn’t constitute poor parenting; it only means that we are all susceptible to a kid being a kid. The greater the number of facilities utilizing CSP, the lower the drowning statistic becomes, and...

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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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