Aquatics Facility Risk Management
Aquatics Facility Risk Management
Aquatics facility managers and staff at public entities have the very important
job of maintaining a safe facility. This manual and DVD are designed to help
employees and visitors to go home safely.
The program addresses various exposures, including:
Water Quality and Chemical Safety
Water Sanitation
Rules and Safety Communication
Wading Pools
Legal and Regulatory Issues
This package includes a training DVD that corresponds with this manual. The
manual includes sample policies, rules, and references.
Table of Contents
Aquatics Risk Management
Department of State Health Services Public Swimming Pool &
Spa Inspection Form
Sample Policies and Rules
Group Use
People Unable to Swim
Diving Boards
Aquatics Rescue Equipment
Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
Sample Fecal Accident Protocol
Lightning Safety Tips
Valve Maintenance Programs
Loss Prevention News - Municipal Swimming Pool Drowning
US Department of Labor Fact Sheet
Aquatics Websites
*These resources are intended to help aquatic personnel better understand and manage safety
and risk management issues. Your facility may have to change sample rules and policies as needed
for local circumstances. For more information on Texas Department of State Health Services
rules on swimming pools, please see “Rules/Regulations” at
Aquatics Facility Risk Management
Public swimming pools offer a fun time. However, without proper accident prevention measures, swimming
pools can present significant exposures for public entities. The following loss prevention measures may
help reduce the risk of injury, death, and liability at municipal aquatics facilities. State codes, local codes,
and ordinances should be considered when applicable.
Aquatics facility managers and staff have the very important job of maintaining a safe facility. Whether you
are an experienced aquatics professional or you are just getting started in your first job, these safety tips
and reminders are intended to help employees and visitors go home safely.
Discouraging unauthorized entry is an important part of swimming pool
accident prevention. For the protection of the facility and the public,
access to public aquatics facilities is controlled. Refer to State of Texas
Standards for public swimming pools in regards to fencing. Gates and
doors should be directly supervised or locked. Areas around the facility
should be cleared of chairs, overhanging tree limbs, or other items that
could be used for gaining access to the enclosed pool area. Maintain
your fence line free of overgrowth.
Inspect the pool at the close and opening of every day. Facility managers
have found people who died in their swimming pools after the pools
were closed.
Additional security measures to continue are lighting, cameras, and security alarms.
Fence inspections and repairs are
essential to maintaining security.
On the outside of the fence, signs indicating “No Unauthorized Access” will serve to warn potential unauthorized entrants. Regularly check the fence for signs of damage, and make necessary repairs if the fence is
Water Quality and Chemical Safety
Maintaining proper water quality is important for safety and
sanitation. Water chemistry is essential to providing a healthy,
safe, and comfortable environment for pool users.
Factors that affect water quality include
 disinfectant
 pH
 alkalinity
 calcium hardness
 total dissolved solids
 temperature
Document water quality checks.
There are various ways to maintain disinfection, such as gas
chlorine, liquid chlorine, bromine, ozone and granular
chlorine, also known as calcium hypochlorite. Chemicals
are necessary to maintain sanitary water.
Technologies such as automated controllers have made
monitoring water chemistry much easier, but know how
to check the controller and ensure that it is functioning
properly. Maintain backup records.
Pump and valve maintenance programs will help water circulation.
Water circulation is necessary to ensure properly treated and
filtered water. Maintenance programs will also prolong the useful
service life of the equipment.
Regularly check controllers and maintain
Take proper precautions with chlorine and other pool chemicals. If
your pool uses chlorine gas, trained personnel should make regular
operation and maintenance inspections and perform tank changes
when appropriate. A warning signal of chlorine leaks is the obvious
strong odor of the gas. Usually a person can sense the presence of
chlorine before it does real harm.
If personnel suspect a chlorine leak, conduct a test by opening the
bottle of an ammonia solution on the area where the leak might be,
such as a joint or connection. If chlorine is present, a white mist will
form. At least one co-worker should be present while the other
worker checks for a leak. Cylinders should be properly chained to
prevent falling. When changing a chlorine cylinder, use the new lead
washer. If you are in any way uncertain on how to work with chlorine or any other chemical, talk with your supervisor first.
Chemical rooms should be secured to prevent public access, and should be labeled with appropriate
warning signs. For all chemicals, employees should be properly trained and provided appropriate personal
protective equipment, such as self-contained breathing apparatus, gloves, footwear, and eye/face protection. Safety Data Sheets should be accessible to employees. Clean spills using the right procedures, tools,
and personal protective equipment.
Take care to store chemicals properly. Some pool chemical products react violently when other substances, such as oil, gasoline, or soft drinks are exposed to them. Ensure that chemicals are properly
stored so that water will not react with chemicals. Clean spills using the right procedures, tools, and
personal protective equipment.
Water Sanitation
Maintaining proper water quality is important for safety and
sanitation. Water chemistry and public education are essential
to providing a healthy, safe, and comfortable environment for
pool users.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides resources
to aquatics staff, such as fact sheets and steps for preventing
recreational water illnesses, and sample practices for disinfection and remediation of vomit, blood, and fecal contamination.
One method to reduce the number of fecal incidents is to
require children who are not potty trained to use swim
diapers with plastic pants. Make sure that adequate diaper
changing facilities and trash receptacles are available. provides resources for public
Because of the risk of recreational water illness (RWI), proper sanitary procedures should be adopted and
followed, including educating users about the need to shower before entering the pool, not entering the
pool if recently ill, especially with diarrhea or vomiting, and the use of swim diapers and plastic pants on
children who are not potty trained. Swimmers should not spit or put pool water in their mouths.
Mandatory restroom breaks can help with providing a time that children can go to the restroom.
Aquatics facilities operators should educate and provide information to the public. The Centers for Disease
Control maintains public education resources such as posters, brochures, and fact sheets that provide
steps to reduce recreational water illnesses.
The CDC promotes Six Steps for Healthy Swimming. Your facility might consider these points on a safety
sign to promote clean water.
Don’t swim when you have diarrhea.
Don’t swallow the pool water
Wash your hands with soap and water after using the restroom or changing diapers.
Take your children to the bathroom often.
Change diapers in the bathroom and not at poolside
Wash your child thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming.
Cryptosporidium is one parasite that can make swimmers very
sick, and cryptosporidium spores are resistant to chlorine. Young
children and people with weakened immune systems are most
susceptible to the effects of infection. Some swimming pools in
Texas had to react to possible exposure to this very serious parasite. A prevention and response plan should refer to the Centers
for Disease Control guidelines.
Regarding water clarity, if the pool bottom cannot be seen, then the pool should be closed. It is necessary
to be able to see the bottom of the pool so that all people can be seen.
Cloudy water indicates a water quality problem. If the water is not clear and you cannot see the bottom,
the pool should be closed until the bottom of the pool is clearly seen. If the water is cloudy and someone
is at the bottom, lifeguards will not be able to see that person. This is an important health and safety
State swimming pool regulations require that the facility be maintained under the supervision and direction of a properly trained and certified operator who is responsible for the sanitation, safety, and proper
maintenance of the pool or spa, and for maintaining physical and mechanical equipment and records.
Training and certification can be obtained by completion of one of the various courses such as the
National Recreation and Park Association’s Aquatic Facility Operator, National Swimming Pool Foundation’s Certified Pool Operator, YMCA Pool Operator on Location, or other equivalent training.
Rules and Safety Communication
Aquatics facilities should ‘warn and inform’ facility guests.
Signage is one method to communicate safety rules.
Concise pool rules should be posted in the most visible
location at the entryway. Post rules in other locations as
the situation requires, such as a sign at the diving board
with the diving board rules, and signage on the deck such
as ‘please walk’ or ‘no running’ or ‘no diving’.
Waterslides should have clearly posted signage at the
bottom and top of the slide. Pictograph signs communicate
proper ways to slide. Aquatics operators should refer to
manufacturer’s recommended rules as a basis for the
facility’s rules. Refer to the Resources section of this
publication for ideas on rules. The operator may need to
consider additional rules to provide information to
Rules should address cautions and limitations for individuals, swimming ability, no multiple riders, and
recommended sliding positions. Dispatching lifeguards should explain and monitor participants. Lifeguards
should communicate with each other using a standard set of signals.
Refer to Texas Department of State Health Services codes for requirements for phone location, depth
markers and no diving signs. Post emergency telephone numbers near the telephone.
Signs on the deck and around the pool are good ways to warn and inform your guests about conditions
and to prevent accidents.
With all rules, make sure the staff knows the reason why the rule is in place. This will help while working
with the public. Staff should set a good example and follow all the rules as they are in place for everyone’s
To follow up on ‘warn and inform’ with signage, facility staff should ‘inspect and protect’ the facility.
An inspection program will help ensure that any problems are identified. The problem area should be
communicated and repaired. If the item cannot be repaired, the area should be made safe so that people
cannot use the damaged equipment.
Diving Boards
Texas Department of State Health Services codes provide specific requirements on diving board installation and parameters. The diving area should be evaluated according to the applicable standards. The
standards have a measurement chart. The slope of a pool bottom is an important factor.
Only one diver should be permitted on the diving board at a time, with the diver taking no more than a
single bounce. Divers should land in the pool’s deep end away from the board. Spinal injuries are often
caused by striking the sloped area as it rises towards the shallow end. The fulcrum of the board should be
locked in the forward position so that people cannot adjust the spring tension of the board.
Slips and falls happen frequently at swimming pools. Regular inspections of the deck, bathrooms and other
areas for hazards will enable you to detect problems and correct them before an accident occurs. Glass
and other sharp objects should be removed immediately.
Waterslides should be inspected every day. Personnel should check the waterslide before opening. It is a
good idea that when lifeguards rotate positions that they ride the waterslide to check for any rough spots
or abnormal conditions and report them. Special rules apply to waterslides and other attractions, and the
rules should be clearly posted and communicated to users.
Entrapment Prevention
The federal Virginia Graeme Baker Act is intended to prevent suction
entrapment and entanglement. These requirements are important to
protect swimmers from hair or bodily entrapment. Properly maintained
anti-vortex plates and protective covers are an important part of preventing
entrapment. Inspect drain covers at least daily. If any drain gates, plates, or
covers are missing or broken, the pool should be closed until the repair or
replacement has been made. Operators should keep spares of covers when
possible so they can be replaced quickly if needed.
Swimming pool managers have worked over the past few years to comply
with the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Act. The Consumer Product Safety
Commission continues to review the regulations that implement the Act.
Inspect drain covers daily. Keep
backups to make prompt
It is recommended to periodically refer to the Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC) and Texas Department of State Health Services for updates. The CPSC has an email
service that provides notifications. Websites for more information include and Be sure to look for manufacturers’ recalls and changes to standards. It is important to review the requirements carefully. Every pool should be reviewed for its
current safety measures.
It is recommended to retain work orders and other information provided by contractors in order to
demonstrate compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Act. In addition, products such as drain covers
have a stated life span and such covers may have to be replaced after a period of time. The documentation
should help determine a parts replacement schedule.
It is recommended to retain work orders and other information provided by contractors in order to
demonstrate compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Act. In addition, products such as drain covers
may have a stated life span and such covers may have to be replaced after a period of time. The documentation should help determine a parts replacement schedule.
Protections such as safety vacuum release systems should also be inspected and maintained according to
manufacturer recommendations.
Other Inspection Items
Some simple steps can reduce the risk of life-threatening accidents
within the pool. Buoy lines should be in place to mark physical and
visual boundaries of the deeper pool areas as well as to assist tired
swimmers. Personnel should prohibit swimmers from standing on or
playing with buoy lines as this can stretch the lines and cause them to
sag and become less visible to swimmers. Employees should check the
lines every day for fraying and make sure floats are free of holes and
Ladders and drain covers should be securely fastened and sturdy.
Backboards should be clearly displayed and accessible to lifeguards. The head immobilizers should be firmly
secured to the board.
A ring buoy with rope and a shepherd’s crook should be visible when the pool is open, as required by local
and state health codes.
Electrical hazard potential can be reduced with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). Submerged lights
should be inspected frequently since children often explore these areas.
Proper and thorough documentation is part of any well-managed facility. It is also helpful to incorporate
checklists of operating procedures and duties, as well as documentation of pool maintenance, waterslide
maintenance, water quality and chemical checks, guard zones, lifeguard in-service training, and accidents.
Determine what age of children will not be allowed in the pool
without an adult. The rule should also specify the age of the
responsible adult. For example, an older brother or sister who is
thirteen would probably not be considered an adult to watch over
a six-year old. Aquatic facility staff should remind parents to watch
their children. Children who do not know how to swim should be
within arms’ reach of an adult.
Consider administering swim tests before allowing individuals to swim without direct adult supervision.
A particularly vulnerable time for swimming pools occurs when a large number of children visit at once to
the surprise of the swimming pool staff.
If daycare centers or other groups visit your facility, work with them beforehand to make sure the group
leaders and daycare professionals understand your facility’s rules and you can adequately prepare for their
visit. A group use policy should be implemented. Licensed daycare providers must follow certain regulations in regards to water activities. Staff should be informed about the policy and be able to remind users
of the policy if needed, or to refer the issue to a manager. Please see the Resources section for more
detailed information and a sample policy.
Breath holding games can quickly lead to an emergency because people may hyperventilate. A decreased
carbon dioxide level may result in the body not signaling to breathe. Breath holding and underwater swimming can cause accidents with better swimmers as well as less experienced ones. Pool staff should actively
discourage breath holding games and underwater distance swimming.
Swimming pool staff should be aware of possible issues regarding people who could try to prey on children
at swimming pools. Policies regarding cameras in changing rooms should be considered. Your local police
department may be able to provide resources and training in order to have more awareness of such issues.
After observing suspicious behavior, appropriate responses, such as notifying a supervisor, manager or law
enforcement officer, should be reviewed with staff.
Wading Pools
Wading pool activities require adherence to safety measures. The federal
Virginia Graeme Baker Act is intended to prevent suction entrapment
and entanglement, which is especially of concern in shallow pools.
Inspect drain covers at least daily. If any drain gates, plates, or covers are
missing or broken, the pool should be closed until the repair has been
made. Refer to Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements
under the Virginia Graeme Baker Act.
Children should be accompanied by a parent or a person of appropriate age whenever using the wading
pool. Accidents can occur in a split second in toddler pools even while under adult supervision. For this
reason, some pools assign a person to watch the wading pool. If a lifeguard is not assigned to the wading
pool, then guards should regularly check on the wading pool as part of their rotation.
Rules and signage should be clearly posted. Wading pools should be physically separated whenever possible
from the large pool with a four-foot high fence with a self-latching gate.
Lifeguards represent your aquatics facility. They are often the
primary contact for your public. Lifeguards greet the public,
provide information, enforce rules, and provide rescue and
emergency care services as needed. A lifeguard’s primary
responsibility should be to prevent accidents and injuries at
an aquatic facility. When an incident occurs, the lifeguard must
make a quick appropriate rescue or response.
While lifeguards may be assigned other tasks, such as teaching swimming lessons, checking water quality, or
cleaning, they should not be assigned those other tasks while they are supervising the pool.
Lifeguards need to be prepared, focused, and ready to respond to emergencies. A goal for lifeguards is to
never have to enter the water to save swimmers. This goal can be achieved with thorough checks of the
pool area. When aquatics facility managers monitor lifeguards’ scanning times, they reinforce the important
activity of watching the water. Monitoring an assigned zone and practicing proactive lifeguarding are keys
to prevent and quickly react to situations.
When lifeguards are scanning, they should move their heads. This action helps to detect non-moving
objects as well as moving objects. In order to promote lifeguard vigilance, in-service training should include
recognizing the signs of a person in distress. Training should include how to scan. The lifeguard’s head
should move as he or she scans. All areas should be scanned, including the area below the feet. The lifeguard should look at the corners, and use scanning patterns.
A diagram of the assigned zones for lifeguards should be developed and communicated to lifeguards so they
know the area that they are supposed to watch. Consider overlapping zone coverage areas as necessary.
Lifeguards should learn and practice identifying swimmer behaviors that indicate potential problems. If
there is a problem, then the lifeguard should follow a well-practiced alert and rescue protocol.
Providing shade, sunglasses, sunscreen, hats, and water will help lifeguards stay more alert. Sun and
dehydration contribute to poorer vision and concentration.
Breaks should be considered as part of lifeguard rotations. For example, some facilities have lifeguards
stationed for 30 minutes, then rotate positions and guard the pool for 20 minutes. As a break for staff and
pool users, some facilities provide a 10-minute break each hour and the
pool is cleared. Some facilities are able to rotate the lifeguards in and out
of the office. Regular breaks keep the lifeguards mentally prepared for
emergencies. This allows them to focus on the task when they are on
duty, which is watching the water.
It is a good idea for the lifeguards to wear packs that contain barrier
masks, gloves and bandages so that these items are readily accessible to
them when needed.
An emergency action plan should be posted and all employees required
to know and understand procedures. Think about the different situations
your facility is likely to encounter.
Some situations to consider for an Emergency Action Plan include:
 Lightning/Tornado
 Medical Emergencies – stroke, heart attack, etc.
 Chemical spill
 Missing child
 Security alert
 Evacuation
Lifeguard packs should include items
to be readily accessible in case of
emergency. Skills practice should
include how to use the items. For
example putting on gloves should be
part of training.
Lifeguards should practice their lifesaving skills regularly, at
least four hours a month. Simulated aquatic emergencies allow
lifeguards to practice their responsibilities in the event of an
actual emergency. Skills review should include unconscious
victim, including extrication of the victim, artificial respiration
and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), spinal injury
management, active victims, first aid, and emergency
action plans, including facility evacuation. A lifeguard competition is one fun way to practice skills. Invite local emergency
response personnel to help with training and practice your
facility’s emergency action plan.
Emergency medical personnel can provide tips on performing
CPR and working with people in medical distress as part of
lifeguard in-service training. Many public pools have invited the
local fire/EMS staff to help with in-service training. All staff
members should feel comfortable about their roles and
responsibilities in the event of an incident.
Lifeguards should participate in at least
four hours of in service training a month,
according to state standards.
Along with posting clear and concise facility rules, lifeguards should
actively promote safe swimmer behavior and discourage unsafe
behavior. Staff should know the rules and the reasons for them.
Staff should consistently apply the rules for everybody and follow all rules.
Evaluate and monitor your lifeguards’ performance. Give them positive feedback. For example, when they
rotated to a different stand or location, was someone watching their assigned zone at all times? Are they
moving their heads when they scan the water? Do they actively enforce the rules? Lifeguards should be
alert and professional. Letting them know how they are doing is important for getting the performance
that you want. Test and retest your lifeguards’ skills. In-service training can be educational and fun.
Certifications and training are the first steps in making someone a lifeguard. Lifeguards should possess a
current certification in lifeguard training, first aid, and CPR. The employer should keep these records on
Pre-season training is utilized by aquatics managers to make sure
employees understand important policies and procedures.
Periodic in-service training should address skills practice, as well as
a review of safety issues.
Scenarios should be part of ongoing training as this
practice can lead to better decision making when an
event occurs.
Legal and Regulatory Issues
Different regulations affect aquatics facilities. These include the
Texas Department of State Health Services Standards for Public Swimming Pools and Spas
Texas Department of State Health Services rules for “Public Interactive Water Features and
Americans with Disabilities Act
Virginia Grahame Baker Act, which addresses entrapment prevention
Local health codes and regulations
It is important to stay up-to-date with these issues. Consider professional associations, regulatory agency
websites, targeted publications, and certification classes as methods to be informed about aquatics issues.
For example, the US Department of Justice’s ADA Title II regulations affect
local governments. Aquatics facilities should review accessibility issues. The
regulations were published on September 15, 2010. The regulations incorporate the US Access Board final requirements, including requirements for
aquatics facilities. The compliance deadline for existing pools was January
31, 2013.
The language states that public pools measuring less than 300 linear feet in
perimeter have at least one means of entry to accommodate disabled individuals and pools with more than 300 perimeter feet need two methods of
The Americans with Disabilities
Act affects public swimming pools. Resources for more information include the Department of Justice website
Lift chairs are one method to for the standards. Sections 242 and 1009 address swimming
allow disabled individuals to enter pools, wading pools, and spas. Means of accessibility, such as pool lifts or
the pool.
sloped entries, are described in those sections.
The Centers for Disease Control is working with public health and industry representatives to write a
Model Aquatic Health Code. The purpose of the code is to serve as a guide for local and state agencies to
implement standards regarding the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of swimming pools
and other treated recreational water venues.
The Model Aquatic Health Code could impact state, local, and industry standards. Focus areas of the
model code include Disinfection & Water Quality, Facility Design & Construction, Facility Maintenance &
Operation, Lifeguarding/Bather Supervision, Operator Training, Recirculation Systems & Filtration, Risk
Management/Safety, as well as others. For information on the Model Aquatic Health Code and how to
provide comments, see
Final Thoughts
Not every detail in operating a safe aquatic facility
can be covered here. Pool managers should complete a training program such as the Certified Pool
Operator (CPO) Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO)
or Pool Operator on Location (POOL).
Other educational and professional opportunities
are available through the Texas Public Pool Council,
National Recreation and Park Society, Texas
Recreation and Park Society (TRAPS), and others.
Keeping water clear, sanitized, and balanced is a
multi-factor endeavor. Managers should sharpen
their skills along with the lifeguards, since they can
also be required to act in an
This guide includes resources for more information on specific topics, such as sample group use policies,
how to respond to fecal and vomit incidents, Texas Department of State Health Services sample inspection form, Department of Labor information, and some helpful websites.
Call your TML Intergovernmental Risk Pool loss prevention representative, who will be glad to assist you
with your questions. TMLIRP provides several services to members, such as conducting on-site surveys
of facilities. The State public swimming pool codes can be accessed at
default.shtm. A generic pool inspection form from the Department of State Health Services is included in
this publication. The TMLIRP Loss Prevention Media Library has videos on aquatics safety and can be
accessed at The TMLIRP website also has links to other websites of interest to aquatics
personnel. If you have ideas or suggestions, please contact your loss prevention representative or email
[email protected] Your ideas could help someone else.
Texas Department of State Health Services—Generic Pool Inspection Form
Texas Department of State Health Services—Generic Pool Inspection Form
Texas Department of State Health Services—Generic Pool Inspection Form
Texas Department of State Health Services—Generic Pool Inspection Form
Sample Policies and Rules
Note: The following policies and rules are samples only. Your facility’s rules and policies should be
adapted for local regulations, codes, manufacturer’s recommendations, etc. Each facility will find it has a
unique need and must adapt accordingly, while keeping in mind general industry standards.
At a minimum, day care centers should follow state laws. For more information on State requirements for
day care centers, see the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services website at, and look for “Child Care Minimum Standards”.
Ratios for Water Activities are found under Texas Administrative Code Title 40, Part 19, Chapter 746,
Subchapter E, Division 7 (§746.2105).
Use of City Swimming Pools by Day Care Centers, Agencies, or
Private Swimming Classes
A. For the purpose of this policy, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or
requires a different meaning.
Agency means organizations that provide supervised care for children, including, but not limited to, state
schools and hospitals, summer day camps, and private schools.
Day Care Center means any person or organization that provides care for six or more children.
Private Swimming Instructors means any person providing swim lessons to an individual or groups either
for compensation or for free.
Staff Member means any person who is employed by a day care center or agency which uses a city
swimming pool.
B. In order to use a city swimming pool for either recreational swimming or swimming instruction, any day
care center or agency or private instruction class shall be registered before the desired time for use with
the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department or his or her designee. Facilities and times for use
shall be assigned to each group by the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department or his or her
C. The following ratios from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services must be followed at
all times::
Age of Child – Number of Staff to Number of Children
0 - 23 months - 1 to 1
2 years - 1 to 2
3 years - 1 to 6
4 years - 1 to 8
5 years - 1 to 10
6 years & older - 1 to 12
D. The following certifications and degrees of participation are required of staff members of day care
centers or agencies:
1. All day care center or agency staff members must have the following current certifications:
a. Community Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) or equivalent (must be renewed every year)
b. Community First Aid or equivalent (must be renewed every three years)
2. At all times, at least one staff member from any group must be at least 18 years of age, and shall have
the certifications listed in subsection (D) (1), previous.
3. Proof of all certifications for staff members must be on file with the Director of Parks and Recreation,
or his or her designee, before a day care center or agency may use a city swimming pool for recreation
or instruction.
4. All certified day care center or agency staff shall wear swimsuits and shall participate in the water
while supervising the children in the water in the ratio stated in the subsection above.
E. Private swimming instruction, whether offered by a day care center or agency or by an individual
swimming instructor, shall be scheduled as specified by the Director of the Parks and Recreation
Department or by his or her designee. All teachers shall be certified according to standards established
by the United States Swim School Association or equivalent, and proof of certification must be on file
with the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department or his or her designee, before classes may be
taught in a city swimming pool. All private instructors shall wear swimsuits and participate in the water
while providing swimming lessons.
F. All day care centers or agencies or private swimming instructors shall be assigned to city swimming
pools for both recreational and instructional swimming by the Director of the Parks and Recreation or
his or her designee. Assignment of facilities will be based on facility size, time of day, bather load, size of
the day care center or agency group or private swimming instructor's group, lifeguard staffing, or other
relevant criteria.
G. Failure of any day care center or agency or private swimming instructor to comply with the provisions
of this policy shall result in denial of access to the pool and may result in revocation of the privilege to
use city swimming facilities. If it is shown that the day care center or agency or private swimming instructor had prior knowledge of this policy, revocation will be for a period of 90 days. Subsequent violation of
this section by any day care center or agency or private swimming instructor within 24 months shall
result in revocation of city swimming pool use privileges for a minimum of one year. Revocation of
swimming pool privileges shall be by written direction of the Director of the Parks and Recreation
Department. A signed policy in agreement of these policies and rules must be turned into the Director
of the Parks and Recreation Department by the designated date.
Use of City Swimming Pools by Children Unable to Swim
If any minor child is unable to swim, it shall be unlawful for the parent, guardian, or person in custody of
such child to allow, suffer or permit such child to go into any swimming pool owned or operated by the
city, unless such child is accompanied by a person not less than __ years of age who is capable of supervising and caring for such child, and who has agreed with such parent, guardian, or person in custody of
such child to be responsible for the safety of such child.
For the purpose of this section, "a minor child who is unable to swim" is a child under the age of __
years who is unable to complete, with reasonable ease, any beginner skills test officially endorsed by
the American Red Cross or other nationally recognized swimming program.
This section shall not apply to children who are participating in swim classes being conducted by
qualified swimming instructors.
Diving Board Rules
1. Diver must be able to swim unassisted. Staff will require swimming
test if questionable.
2. No personal floatation devices allowed on diving boards.
3. One diver at a time.
4. Be sure diving area is clear before diving.
5. One bounce only.
6. Dive straight off board
7. Do not swim underneath the diving board.
8. No open swimming in the diving well, unless diving boards are
Slide Rules— Samples
Aquatics operators should refer to manufacturer’s recommended rules as a basis for the facility’s rules. The
operator may need to consider additional rules to provide information to participants.
Remember, you are responsible for your safety. Please
observe the slide and decide if you can safely participate.
For your protection, this slide is not recommended for guests
with physical limitations imposed by conditions such as: recent
surgery or illness, pregnancy, back, neck, bone, or other injury,
high blood pressure, heart conditions, extreme obesity as well
as other conditions.
1. Please follow lifeguard instructions.
2. Sliders must be able to swim in at least __ feet of water.
3. Sliders must be at least __ inches tall to go down the slide.
4. One rider at a time. No doubles or multiple riders allowed.
5. Ride in the recommended position with your feet first. No
stopping or standing.
6. Keep hands inside flume.
7. Sliders must exit the slide area immediately after completion
of slide.
8. This ride is not recommended for guests over 250 pounds.
Failure to follow all the rules for this slide can result in serious
injury to yourself or others.
Aquatics Rescue Equipment
The following is provided to make decisions on the purchase aquatics equipment to meet the needs of
the facility. It is not a comprehensive list of equipment for a swimming pool. These suggestions are for
the major rescue equipment needs. You will find variations on these items, and it is recommended that
you carefully consider purchases with the help of aquatics staff. Local codes may have an impact on
purchasing decisions as well.
Rescue Tubes
Generally, these tubes are about 40” long and should not have
metal buckles that could hurt somebody. Straps can be adjustable for guard comfort. Each lifeguard on duty should wear a
rescue tube. Lifeguards should draw in the slack so that the
lifeguard does not get the strap caught on the stand and be ‘hung’ when coming down from the stand.
Sometimes sleeves are purchased to prevent staff from ‘picking’ at the foam tube and damaging it. Hard
plastic rescue cans are not appropriate for the swimming pool environment.
Pealess whistles that can still operate with water in them are recommended.
Breakaway lanyards will help prevent a victim from choking a lifeguard that is
attempting a rescue.
Artificial Respiration/CPR Masks (AR/CPR Masks)
These devices protect the rescuer and the victim from diseases and
should have a one-way valve that prevents contact with secretions.
These barriers also help the rescuer to better perform artificial respiration/rescue breathing. Some devices should not be used again after
being used on a person. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation.
A mask should be provided to every lifeguard and staff person that is
CPR-certified. It is recommended that these staff members carry one in
a small pack, plus at least one mask in the office area. When staff members have been properly trained in
a bag valve, such equipment may be purchased.
Latex gloves or other gloves that protect from bloodborne pathogens should be worn by
the staff when the possibility exists of touching someone else’s fluids. Be aware that some
people may have an allergy to latex and other types of gloves may have to be provided. A
pair should be kept by each lifeguard, preferably in their hip packs. It’s a good idea to keep
a box of gloves in the office. Staff should practice taking gloves on and off and managers
should make wearing gloves part of the in-service training on first aid and CPR.
First Aid Supplies
Various bandages, gloves, wipes, eyewash, tape, burn cream, etc. should be kept in
the office area. Ice is good to have for first aid purposes. Staff can keep some bandages in their packs along with gloves. Don’t forget items for cleaning up bodily
fluids and for properly discarding contaminated items. The kit should be a 24 unit
first aid kit and be in a durable weather-resistant container.
Backboard with straps and head immobilizer
The State rules require backboards at pools that have a diving board, slide, or lifeguard. Backboards can be made of plastic or wood material. Each has advantages and disadvantages. The
backboard should have at least three straps that can be buckled or secured tightly with Velcro.
(Some backboards have four straps for securing taller or adult victims.) Head immobilizers
often come separately and should include two pads for each side of the head, a head strap,
and a chin strap. Make sure the immobilizer can be secured tightly to the backboard you have.
Some head immobilizers do not work well with certain backboards.
Ring Buoy with Line
Ring buoys should be displayed prominently when the pool is open, within 20 feet of the pool.
The ring buoy should be US Coast Guard approved with an outside diameter of 15 to 24
inches. The ring buoy should also have a 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch diameter throwing rope at least
the length of two thirds the maximum width of the pool.
Shepherd’s Crook/Rescue Pole
A shepherd’s crook should be mounted within 20 feet of the pool and where the
people can see it when the pool is open. The pole should be of light, non-electrically
conducting material such as fiberglass. It should be non-telescopic, and not less than
12 feet long. It should also have a blunted end with a body hook or shepherd’s crook.
The State codes state that all pools less than 2,000 square feet of water surface area must have at least
one reaching pole and throwing rope with ring buoy. An additional set of this equipment is required if
the pool is between 2,000 and 4,000 square feet. For pools larger than 4,000 square feet an additional set
of equipment should be required for each additional 6000 square feet of water surface area or portion
over 4,000 square feet. All of this equipment should be placed conspicuously and within 20 feet of the
Oxygen, Automatic External Defibrillators, Suction Units,
Cervical Extrication Collars, etc.
Managing a facility can involve the evaluation of new equipment. The
main issue with having any piece of equipment is to make sure that the
staff are properly trained in its use. Currently there are no laws that
require the use of equipment such as automated external defibrillators.
Your lifeguard certification agency might encourage the use of the
equipment, you may find certain equipment to be helpful, or feel that
your standards require such use, but the aquatics professional should
be involved with deciding if the equipment is needed by that facility.
Note: Texas Department of State Health Services rules for swimming pools can be accessed on the
internet at There are many useful links to information
regarding swimming pools at the Department of State Health Services site.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act affects operators of swimming pools. Please share this information with
others in your entity as appropriate.
Overview of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa
Safety Act
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act
is a federal law that affects public swimming pools
throughout the country. The Act addresses the issue of
preventing swimming pool and spa entrapment and
evisceration. Certain measures, including approved drain
covers, must be installed on public swimming pools and
spas. In addition, pools with a single main drain must
have a system to prevent entrapment, and dual or multiple
drains must be at least 3 feet apart.
regards to entrapment prevention and may already be implemented at the swimming pool. For example, some pools may
have already installed protection systems such as a Safety
Vacuum Release System or Suction Limiting Vent System
prior to the Virginia Graeme Baker Act.
It is also recommended to maintain documentation of
contacts, work orders, requests for proposal, and receipts in
regards to compliance efforts with the Act. This documentation can also help with determining when certain items, such
as drain covers, must be replaced, based on manufacturer’s
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the
agency responsible for interpreting the Act. Compliance
guidance is published by the Consumer Product Safety
Commission at its website, Specific
information on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa
Safety Act can be found at The
website provides informational videos and other resources for swimming pool operators.
Since this is a national issue that has garnered much attention
and applies to many pools, it is important to consider timely
action in order to implement any changes prior to opening a
swimming pool. Some renovation projects may demand
draining the pool. Complying with the Act may be a
significant cost and time issue for your swimming pool.
In addition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission,
some other organizations with information on this issue are:
The issue of entrapment prevention continues to change.
Act. In September 2011, the CPSC reinterpreted the definition of “unblockable drains”. In May 2011 certain
manufacturers recalled drain covers.
Additional Resources
Texas Department of State Health Services
Division of Regulatory Services – Public Swimming Pools
and Spa Program
The Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk
Pool recommends to its members to review their
swimming pools to determine if changes are needed.
National Recreation and Park Association
It is recommended to refer to up-to-date compliance
information. The Consumer Product Safety Commission
is maintaining a list of approved product suppliers on its
website. It is important to note that there is no ‘one size
fits all’ answer because of differences amongst pools.
National Spa and Pool Foundation
Texas Municipal League
Intergovernmental Risk Pool
Loss Prevention Department
[email protected]
A pool may already meet requirements since Texas
Department of State Health Services Pool and Spa
Standards have previously addressed certain issues in
Lightning Safety Tips
These tips focus on people who may be caught outdoors when lightning is occurring, such as at parks,
ball fields, and swimming pools.
How likely is it that you could be struck by lightning? This is a question that has received many varied
answers from different statistics. There is no exact answer to this question. The more correct response
is that it depends on your activities and the climate area in which you live. If you are a person that tends
to stay indoors and lives in a temperate climate, your chances of being struck by lightning are greatly
reduced, versus someone who plays golf and lives in a climate were there are often storms accompanied
by lightning.
If you are caught outdoors when lightning is occurring it is important to:
• Avoid contact with water
• Avoid high ground
• Avoid open spaces
• Avoid metal objects (fences, machinery, tools, golf carts, metal bleachers-etc)
• Avoid waiting under tall trees, under umbrellas, or near power lines
When possible, seek shelter in a building or a vehicle with the windows completely shut. Stay away from
trees, canopies, or picnic/rain shelters.
If you are caught outdoors and lightning is striking nearby, crouch down - putting your feet together, and
avoid proximity to other people (minimum of 15 ft.).
Outdoor Sports Events
It is a good idea to have someone designated to monitor weather conditions. Ideally this should be done 24 hours prior to the event. It is also a
good idea to have a portable weather radio for up-to-the-minute reports.
Some parks departments utilize portable lightning detectors that provide
an alarm when lightning has struck in the area.
To simplify any confusion, a make-up date for any activities that may have
to be postponed should be set prior to the event. It is also important to
have a safe shelter to retreat to, and a prior understanding of where the
shelter is located in case of a sudden storm. Wait at least 30 minutes
after the last thunder or lightning was seen before activities resume.
The National Lightning Safety Institute motto is: “If you can see it
(lightning) flee it; if you can hear it (thunder), clear it.”
A lightning detector can assist
with monitoring for severe
Swimming Pools
Keep in mind that swimming pools are connected to a much larger surface area via underground water
pipes, gas lines, electric and telephone wiring, etc. Lightning strikes to the ground anywhere on this
metallic network may induce shocks elsewhere. For indoor pools, a licensed electrician or engineer
knowledgeable in bonding and grounding should be consulted.
Every pool should designate a person to be the bad weather
lookout. Keep a portable radio close at-hand for local current
weather conditions. If threatening weather approaches, you
should have an evacuation plan in place. This plan should
include how to get everyone out of the water and into a
sheltered area as quickly and as orderly as possible. Lightning
is unpredictable and being prepared and responding quickly
are your two best defenses.
When should I clear the pool? This is a question that the
National Lightning Safety Institute (NLSI) addresses. The NLSI
recommends that once thunder and/or lightning is first
noticed, use a “Flash-To-Bang method”. This determines a
rough distance and speed, and measures the time from seeing Have a policy that states what to do in case of
lightning and other severe weather events.
lightning to hearing associated thunder. For each 5 seconds
from F-B (the flash of lightning, to the bang of the thunder),
lightning is 1 mile away. Thus a F-B of 10 seconds = 2 miles; 15 seconds = 3 miles; 20 seconds = 4
miles—etc. At an F-B count of 30, the Pool should be evacuated. People should be directed to a
nearby shelter. Pool activities should not resume until 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard. This is
known as the 30-30 Rule.
First-Aid For Lightning Victims
If someone in your presence is struck by lightning, it is safe to touch them to administer medical treatment. You are not at risk with helping since individuals struck by lightning do not carry an electrical
You should immediately call 911. The rescuer should also keep in mind their safety if a continuing storm
is threatening. If the victim does not appear to be suffering complications from the strike, the rescuer
should not be afraid to move them to safer ground.
If the victim is not breathing, start mouth to mouth resuscitation. If you do decide to move the victim to
safer ground, give a few quick breaths prior to moving them. Determine if there is a pulse. If there is no
pulse, start cardiac compressions as well. Getting the victim to emergency treatment is critical.
Lightning is an unpredictable force that should be taken seriously. Your best defenses against lightning are
to avoid potential situations and exposures that put you in danger. Staying alert of weather situations
around you that may have lightning involved, and having a quick plan of response to seek shelter can help
to keep everyone safe.
For more information on lightning, as many resources, including more technical
Valve Maintenance Programs
Valve (valv), n – a device that halts or controls the
flow of fluid in a pipeline; a device that makes fluid
act differently from the way it would act if it were
traveling along a pipeline without a valve.
Valves are the most important part of any
piping and pumping system because they direct
the flow of fluids and regulate temperatures.
Properly used and maintained, they can improve
process efficiency and lower costs. It is wise to
apply proper valve maintenance routinely in
ways that improve valve life cycle and operating
One of the beneficial by-products of routine
valve maintenance is the reduction of injuries by
employees trying forcing stuck valves to open or
shut in unsafe ways. Another would be the
Valve maintenance improves efficiency and can lower
decrease in down time for equipment and services costs. Labeling pipes and valves aids in maintenance prosupplied to citizens. An annual valve maintenance grams and is referred to in state swimming pool codes.
program would reduce a number of loss
An annual valve maintenance program is best implemented in steps, starting with the most critical valves
that are important to an operation or process. Develop a list and identify these valves with a tag, then
schedule them for annual preventative maintenance. The preventive maintenance would consist of cleaning (stem shaft), adjusting packing as needed, lubrication (zerks, bearings, and stem) and cycling the valve
all the way open or shut and returning it to its original position. Later more valves can be added (as
identified) to ensure they receive maintenance until eventually all valves are on the list.
Before changing a valve position, review proper safety procedures, such as opening air bleed valve, turning
off the pump, and lockout/tagout procedures. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations to prevent
injury and damage.
Maintenance documentation can be kept simple. Identify the valve, its location, date of last maintenance,
and name of person completing the action.
Date Completed
Completed by
Swimming Pool/#2
Pump discharge
John Doe, Public Works
For easier identification, tag or label a valve and refer to a valve sequence chart.
US Department of Labor Fact Sheet
Employment of Lifeguards
The US Department of Labor has addressed the minimum age for lifeguards to work. In summary, the
Department of Labor has stated that those under the age of 16 should not work in dispatching at the top
of elevated waterslides or in other jobs previously prohibited as hazardous occupations, such as using
motorized equipment. There are other restrictions for workers under the age of 16, as specified by the
Fair Labor Standards Act, such as the maximum number of hours of work for a day and week.
For more details about lifeguards, please see the US Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet #60 - Application
of the Federal Youth Employment Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to the Employment
of Lifeguards. A copy of Fact Sheet #60 is provided in this packet.
Please see the US Department of Labor’s websites at or or for information and explanations
regarding youth employment.
Please consult with your entity’s human resources or personnel director regarding these and other
employment issues.
Aquatics Websites
The following are some websites that may be helpful to aquatics personnel.
Regulatory/Government References
Texas Department of State Health Services – Division of Regulatory Services
Health Sanitation and Consumer Product Safety group
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Child care regulations, ratios for water activities
United States Department of Justice Americans with Disabilities Act
United States Access Board — Information on accessibility issues
Virginia Graeme Baker Act resources or
United States Department of Labor
Information on federal laws applying to child labor or
Centers for Disease Control
Healthy Swimming, Prevention of Recreational Water Illnesses
Model Aquatic Health Code
Lifeguard Certification
American Red Cross
Jeff Ellis and Associates
NASCO (National Aquatic Safety Company)
Starfish Aquatics Institute
Professional Organizations and Facility Manager Training
National Recreation and Park Association-Aquatic Facilities Operator (AFO) courses
National Swimming Pool Foundation - Certified Pool Operator (CPO) courses
Texas Public Pool Council - Annual conference and training, and email discussion list
Drowning Prevention / Swimming Pool Safety Resources
How Stuff Works—This website provide basic information about swimming pools and how chlorine works in a
pool, which can be good references in talking with lifeguards.
Aquatics International—This company provides a free magazine and online community to aquatics professionals.
The website and publication cover current educational and regulatory topics.
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