If you’re involved with the operations of a pool, a proactive approach to problems is essential. At least, that’s what Jason Dillon, the associate aquatics director at University of California, San Diego, tries to do when overseeing operations of the university’s aquatics facility.
“Our industry has thankfully been preventative focused since I’ve been in the business [18 years],” said Dillon. “We want to make sure we put a stop to unsafe behaviors before they become more serious. So a lot of the best practices come down to great initial and ongoing training for your staff.”
Dillon gave examples of best practices for your staff to ensure the maximum amount of safety in your facility:
Dillon said some of the most frequent worries when overseeing an aquatic facility include: slips and falls on the wet pool deck; swimmers diving into the shallow end or on top of another swimmer; a young, inexperienced swimmer moving from the shallow end to the deep end; and anything electrical being plugged in less than 10 feet away from the pool.
Last but not least, one of the biggest concerns in the industry today is shallow water blackout — an underwater faint due to lack of oxygen. “It’s something that’s getting huge attention today,” said Dillon. “It’s the No. 1 killer of healthy athletic swimmers, and it’s resulted in many pools, including our own, banning the use of breath-holding activities while in water.”
Some safety precautions are mandated by the health department, explained Dillon, like the minimum amount of chlorine in your water and the requirement for the bottom of public swimming pools to be white — to help lifeguards see a drowning swimmer. But there are more considerations your facility needs to keep in mind in regards to both design and functionality of the pool.
Some of these considerations include lighting, placement of lifeguard stations and HVAC systems. “If you have programming at night, you need to think about lighting for your pool, both in the water and above it,” said Dillon. “Every fun aquatic attraction — fountains, slides — all potentially start to limit lifeguards’ abilities to scan the water, so require creative lifeguard stations to prepare for emergencies in those areas. For indoor pools, a great HVAC system is essential for moving fresh air into the building, and getting rid of chloramines that are the main culprit of eye burn and that smell we all associate with chlorine.”