10 Steps to a Safer Summer

Here come the summer crowds! As attendance at your pool grows, so does your risk exposure. Below, we break down your pool into three specific sections and address ways to reduce the opportunity for injuries and accidents poolside. Make waves this summer with some updated best-practices from your aquatic peers around the country.



  • In-Service Training – Your lifeguards have undergone plenty of training. Now it’s time to do more. When trainings are repeated, staff are more likely to perform from muscle memory, and less likely to go into tunnel vision. Your seasonal staff may be young, unexperienced, or both. Make sure they’re regularly practicing for the most likely and/or severe incidents poolside.

Further Reading: 12 Weeks, 12 In-Services for your Aquatic Teams

  • Hiring Practices with Evaluative Criteria – We’re big on situational hiring – put someone into a real-life scenario and see how they react. For many jobs, this can be done with creative questioning during the interview process. For lifeguards this can only be done poolside. Make sure you’re evaluating potential hires ability to perform CPR, First Aid and basic rescues.

Further Reading: Hire Great, Train Great, Evaluate

  • Increased Staffing Numbers – Speaking of hiring – we often recommend hiring a few extras. As the summer progresses, the seasonal exodus of pool staff inevitably follows. Summer vacation request pile up, college students head back early, someone quits, someone gets fired… you know the drill.

Further Reading: Seven Secrets to Summer Hiring



  • Rest Periods – Are rest periods and adult swims a thing of the past? Our answer is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scheduled rest periods are needed now more than ever. Among other great reasons for regular breaks from swimming (we recommend 10 minutes at the top of each hour) the CDC notes that getting kids out of the water and into restrooms is a huge step in the prevention of Recreational Water Illnesses like Cryptosporidium.

Further Reading: Swim Diapers and Rest Periods, Preventing Pool Illness Proactively

  • Stronger Rules – We hate to be the wet-blanket poolside, but the fun should be controlled and monitored, not wet and wild. If you track your incident and accident reporting, you’ll quickly note patterns and opportunities to reduce risk. If you’re creative, you can reduce your risk exposure with rules and diligent enforcement before the next rescue.

Further Reading: Your Pool, Your Rules

  • Swimming Lessons – Prevent dangerous situations at your pool and beyond by offering compressive swimming lessons. If your facility isn’t big on programming (think condo associations, hotel pools, etc.) you still have an opportunity to help the general public be safer around water. Consider partnering with your local school district, YMCA or Red Cross chapter to host quick swim-to-safety or self-rescue programs once a year.



  • Barriers to Entry – When we’re talking operational safety the first consideration must be barriers to entry. Keeping people out of your pool must be a multi-angled approach. Ask the following questions about your pool.
    • When Open
      • Are we able to keep non-supervised children out of the water?
      • Are we able to keep non-supervised children off the deck?
      • Are we able to keep non-swimmers out of the deep end?
      • Does anyone have access to our pump room or pool chemicals?
    • When Closed
      • Have we assured that everyone has exited the pool area?
      • Are teenagers able to find ways in at night?
      • Are toddlers able to find ways onto the pool deck during closed hours?
      • Does anyone have any means to access to our pool, deck or pump room during the off season?
  • Advanced Training – In the personnel section we noted that lifeguards needed to be trained cyclically and on a regular basis. The same goes for aquatic operators and pool managers. Beyond sending them to their CPO course every five years, they should be on a regular in-service program learning new skills and repeating essential training.

Further Reading: 12 Weeks, 12 In-Services – Maintenance Teams

  • Tools of the Trade – Dig around your pump room and pool deck to make sure you have the right safety and personal protective equipment you need to keep your team out of harm’s way. Here’s what you should see:
    • Safety Equipment: Fire/Smoke Detectors, Carbon Monoxide Alarms, Fire Extinguishers, Emergency Lighting, etc.
    • Medical Equipment: Stocked Medical Kit (Regularly Audited), Bloodborne Pathogen Cleanup Kit, Backboard, Reaching Hook, Ring Buoy, Rescue Tubes, etc.
    • Personal Protective Equipment: Chemical Gloves, Boots, Aprons, Eye Shield and Face Protection, Respirators, Required MSDS Equipment, etc.
  • Facility Audits – Setting up a new protocol is a good first step. After that, it’s essential that you evaluate your expectations. We love the adage “inspect what you expect” and encourage regular audits and surveys of your facility. What’s the difference? Audits are unannounced where facility surveys are planned. Both are useful in the right scenario. Reach out to our office for help with either.

Throughout the summer season the Aquatic Council educators and operators hit the road facilitating training programs and reviews on all of the above topics. Call our office at 1-844-482-1777 to discuss how we can help reduce poolside risk exposure for your team.