Basic First Aid Checklist for Pools

Every pool should have a basic first aid checklist. Don’t respond empty handed. All too often, we audit safety equipment poolside and come up short. What good is a bottle of Aspirin and a few Band-Aid’s when tasked with a real emergency?

The Basics

Let’s start with a checklist. Here’s a basic list straight from the Red Cross. This is the standard list of items you should have at your facility. Got a big pool, lots of pools, lots of patrons? You’ll want to adjust these numbers up and stock multiple kits.

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 blanket (space blanket)
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets
  • Scissors
  • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers

More to Consider

Bloodborne Pathogen Cleanup Kit – Your team should be following OSHA standards when it comes to dealing with blood. This starts with a bloodborne pathogen clean up kit, stocked, ready and on-hand when needed.

Lifeguard Equipment Emergency response may not start or end with the first aid kit. Consider the rescue equipment needed from the lifeguard perspective and add this to your checklist for inspection. Rescue tubes crack and crumble, backboards need new straps, and guard chairs show signs of wear. All of the items in your rescue armory need to be regularly audited. If you’re training your team to a higher standard (Oxygen delivery for example), you’ll need to add this equipment to your regular inspections as well.

The AED – Your AED is a tremendously useful tool, but it requires regular training and inspection. For skill review, we recommend using a mock-AED that performs with the exact prompts as your actual AED. Train for AED usage cyclically. Every 6 months for all rescue personnel is a great goal.

Kit Multipliers – If you have multiple pools, an expansive facility or lots of personnel you may consider mini-kits, waist packs or auxiliary medical supplies storage areas featuring only the essentials. Audit and inspect these in the same way you would your main FA kit, and make sure your team knows what to expect out of the smaller units.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All – Your risk management or insurance company may have a specific opinion about the items you do or don’t stock. Make sure you check with them prior to implementing any plan.

The Best of the Rest – No risk reduction audit discussion would be complete without a quick mention of…

Carbon Monoxide Alarms – An incident in Niles, Michigan reminded us of the danger associated with carbon monoxide, and the lack of regulations around carbon monoxide alarms. Let this be a reminder that you need one in your pump room. Now.

Flashlights – We assume the emergency lighting in our facilities will work in a power outage, but that’s not always the case. Now assume you’re a 3-year-old waiting for your swim lesson instructor in the locker room when the lights go out. Add a couple flashlights to your emergency response kit.

Fire Extinguishers – Type C fire extinguishers and your pump room chemicals just don’t mix. Keep things simple and make sure your fire extinguishers are water-based. Talk to your Fire Marshal about the best options and training regarding pump room based fires.


You’ve researched the equipment you want to use, you’ve trained your team … now the rubber meets the road. Schedule a weekly audit of all of this equipment. This task isn’t as hard as it sounds. Take a trustworthy, enthusiastic lifeguard, give them your list, a key to the supply closet and a free hour each week to inspect your emergency action equipment. You’ll be much better prepared during your next response.