WATER SAFETY IN SWIMMING POOLS
Written Operating Procedures
Each swimming pool should have detailed written operating procedures (WOP’s) that will provide a description of the procedures and arrangements for how the swimming pool is to be operated to ensure user’s safety. These WOPs should include both a normal operating plan (NOP) and an emergency action plan (EAP).
The NOPs include regular inspection of the swimming pool, plant and structure for safety, controlling access to the pool, controlling maximum admissions, competence, training and lifeguard deployment, the standards of user behaviour, conditions of hire to outside organisations, supervision requirements for specialised activities, use of pool covers, first aid arrangements, and emergency alarm procedures.
The EAP include: overcrowding and disorderly behaviour, lack of water clarity, evacuation of pools for various reasons such as lighting failure, structural failure, emission of toxic gasses, serious injury to a bather or a drowning, and bomb threat.
Safety Rules for Swimming Pools
- Before entering the water always visit the toilet.
- Take a shower before you enter the pool.
- When you take a shower or shave your face, always turn of the tap. The water is very precious but it is not endless.
- Keep the pool clean and do not urinate in the pool water.
- Obey the lifeguard rules. Do not talk to the lifeguard on duty.
- Children must accompany at all times by an adult.
- Avoid dangerous ways to play in the pool like horseplay, balls etc. An unexpected or accidental blow could cause concussion or drowning.
- Follow carefully the specific pool’s safety rules.
- Take the lifeguard’s advice for anything you don’t understand, but don’t chat for a long time with them, because they are on duty and their attention on the pool is essential.
- Keep the pool area clean and litter free.
- In pools with lane ropes for length swimming, always swim in the direction indicated on the signs at the lane ends.
- Before diving, look to see if there is someone under the surface.
- Give priority to the swimmers with a disability. Disabled people can use pool. Doctor’s permission should be sought for some disabilities, though for most; swimming is an ideal recreational activity. Water should have a warmer temperature for certain disabilities.
- Do not swim after a heavy meal. Wait for 1 hour after the meal to allow time for digestion and avoid indigestive pain and sickness. Heavy exertions just after eating may induce stomach cramp or cause vomiting.
- Place your locker key around your hand or leg, but put the key in its cover. If you don’t, you may scratch your skin or someone else.
- Have your nails cut before you engage yourself in an aquatic activity.
- Always get out of pool if you feel cold.
- Always know where the emergency exits are.
- If you are a poor swimmer, you must be accompanied by an adult, parent or swim when the pool is guarded from a lifeguard. You will have restricted access to the pool – for example the shallow end.
- If the water is chlorinated, use goggles to protect your eyes.
- Never push or pull someone in the water for fun.
- Baby swimming should be encouraged in organized lessons led by an appropriately certified teacher and in 33οC water temperature.
- All the pools should have signs to indicate the water depth for the deep and the shallow end.
- All the pool staff members should be able to detect a submerged swimmer. The clarity of the water should be adequate to allow the victim detection.
- All the swimming pools should be appropriately equipped with rescue aids, easily accessible by the lifeguards.
- Pool users should not wear personal items like jewelers that may injure themselves or others.
- Breath-holding exercise under the water should be avoided. This encourages hyperventilation and excessive holding of breath to create longer times under water. This is dangerous and has caused black outs in the past from participants.
- Don’t run around the pool edge. It is wet and can cause you to slip. Some pool floors are treaded or tiled with non-slip materials, but they can still be dangerous if people run on them.
- Do not use fins, snorkel or mask. You can injure someone or yourself, especially if someone was to kick your mask.
- In pools with lanes, always swim on the right side.
- Do not chew gum, food or drink at the swimming pool. The fun, excitement and water movement can cause choking.
- If you are not a competent swimmer, do not swim in the deep end of the pool.
- Do not push or pull others at the poolside.
- If you hear the drowning alarm and you realize that the lifeguards are dealing with an emergency, get out of the water.
- If it is discovered that there is a bomb in the building, exit without panic leaving all the doors and windows behind you open. In case of fire, exit the building closing all the doors and windows behind you. Meet at the designated place outside the facility.
- If you have any health problem or take a medication, notify the lifeguard before you enter the water.
- If you swim in outdoors, during the warm days, protect yourself wearing hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen and drinking plenty of non-alcoholic liquids. During the cold days, protect yourself wearing warm clothes and drying your hair before exiting the swimming pool.
Diving in the Water
- Do not dive in shallow water; you are in the danger of a spinal injury.
- Diving should not be permitted into water with a vertical depth shallower than 1.5m.
- Diving is not permitted from pool sides with freeboards exceeding 0.38m unless otherwise stated.
- Only very flat dives should be permitted into swimming pools.
- Running dives are not allowed.
- Diving is not allowed in pools with a forward clearance of less than 7.6m.
- ‘No diving’ notices should conforming to national specifications, should be prominently displayed in all areas of pools where there is a vertical water depth of less than 1.5m, where there is a freeboard exceeding 0.38m and where diving is unsafe.
- Pictorially and written notices advising on safe diving techniques and dangerous diving actions, should be displayed at the pool sides and at the pool entrance areas.
- The teaching of diving should not be carried out in water depths of less than 1.8m.
- Diving should be prohibited when the waves are in motion.
- Practicable measure should be taken to prevent diving from elevated positions (e.g. design features or the pool equipment).
The Swimming Teacher
The role of the swimming teachers for the safety of their pupils is very important and underestimated.
- When you teach a swimming class, position yourself in a way that you will have full visibility of all the students.
- When you teach a swimming class, never turn your back on your pupils.
- A favourite trick among youngsters is that of walking tight - rope fashion along the handrail around the pool. This is entertaining until someone gets his foot caught behind the rail. Children also like to play on the steps leading down into the water. If these are made by aluminium or stainless steel, there is a gap between the steps and the wall just wide enough for a child’s foot to get trapped. These games should be discouraged.
- During a lesson, the diving area must either be placed out of bounds or provided with adequate supervision.
- The teacher must be observant when children enter the water to spot if any harmful toys or goggles are being smuggled in with them. Metal, glass and plastic objects are also quite dangerous when they break or shatter into pieces. Most plastic toys are denser than water and consequently sink to the bottom, so can be harmful if stepped upon. Balls and such like can be a good source of fun outside the main lesson, but their use should be strictly controlled. Small rubber balls can be quite hurtful if thrown at people across the pool. Older and bigger swimmers must be kept away from the beginners when a ball appears on the scene, as they tend to become very boisterous. Inflatables such as small boats, airbeds etc, are usually banned from swimming pools.
- Never leave your class unattended, even for a short while. If in doubt at all, get them out and make them dress while you are away. Always leave some competent person in charge. A senior member of the class will serve this purpose for a short while. In the event of no one being available, the pupils should leave the water and sit away from the poolside for a few moments.
- When teaching a class of swimmers always stand in a position where you can easily be seen and heard by everyone. Never turn your back on the class when they are under your supervision.
- A teacher cannot be expected to be aware of the physical condition of all the pupils that are taken throughout the week. It is wise, however, to find out if anyone suffers from such things as heart complaints, respiratory diseases or epilepsy. These ailments should not automatically preclude their sufferers from swimming. Indeed, swimming is known to be of value to some people with respiratory disorders, and the gentle movements and water support that accompany the exercise are recommended by doctors. A protective friend (helper) can be of great assistance on such occasions when taken into sudden attack or sickness.
- Children must be taught to respond properly to signals. A siren or whistle can be used in dangerous situations, but the children must know exactly what the signal means and what to do should an emergency occur.
- The class must be counted both before, at intervals during the lesson and when the children leave the water. If there is someone missing, don’t panic, but look on the bottom of the pool first! This may sound frivolous, but is quite practical, especially with young tots. It can be alarming to find that the class is suddenly one short.
- Tell the class of children precisely what, in relation to their own height, deep and shallow means.
- Goggles are useful if the chemical content in the water affects the swimmer’s eyes. However, if they are badly designed or damaged, they can be dangerous. If goggles need to be worn, make sure that they fit properly. Removing the goggles to drain the water out is often the cause of accidents. Children pull them away from their eyes and let them slip from their fingers to snap back on their eyes.
- Ensure that no swimmer enters the water before you. The teacher should be completely ready and able to devote full attention to them throughout the entire lesson.
- Floats and other aids are valuable assets in learning to swim but they should be used under the direction of the teacher and in a safe depth of water.
- In larger pools with shelving, it is advisable to distinguish non-swimmers by the use of coloured caps.
- Supervision should be exercised whilst children are using the changing facilities and no child must be allowed near the water itself unless under supervision.
The above general aquatic safety information does apply equally well to ALL participants, including individuals with a variety of disabilities. A disability does not cancel out safety precautions.