Aquatic Safety: Key Questions to Consider

Based on our observations and insights from the field, we have created a list of questions for you to consider as you address key focus areas on your pool deck or waterfront. We encourage you to discuss these with your aquatics leadership staff.

Test. Mark. Protect. 

  • How can we utilize non-aquatics staff, or set aside specific times for swim testing to offset staffing shortages?
  • How are we documenting which youth have been swim tested and which have not? 
  • How are we enforcing our policy at every pool or waterfront?  
  • How are we making sure that our policy is simple so that it is easy to be executed? 
  • Are our marking procedures simple enough that lifeguards can clearly identify non-swimmers?  
  • How are we educating our community (guardians, counselors, guests, etc.) on our policy so that everyone can support lifeguards in their work?
  • How are we communicating with guardians who don’t want their child to be swim tested or wear a PFD?

Lifeguard Positioning 

  • How are we regularly testing to make sure that we have an adequate number of lifeguards to guard the entire pool or waterfront?
  • If we have any lifeguards guarding multiple bodies of water, how can we adjust positioning to make sure they are only responsible for one body of water?
  • How are we testing to make sure that lifeguards can recognize a victim in their entire area of responsibility? 
  • How are we including lifeguards in the testing process to make sure they understand why positions exist?  
  • How often are we asking lifeguards in the stand if they can see their entire area of responsibility?
  • How are we empowering lifeguards to change their position if a blind spot exists?  
  • How are we responding when a lifeguard shares they are unable to see a section of their area of responsibility?  
  • If the pool or waterfront can’t be adequately guarded, which sections can be closed or programs can be altered? 

Ongoing, Realistic Training 

  • When our lifeguards are on duty, do they expect to get in the water every day?
  • How frequently are our lifeguards completing a realistic drill from start to finish?
  • How are we implementing real human bodies into our drills to give lifeguards hands-on training?
  • What drill can we implement this week to give lifeguards realistic practice?
  • How can we continue to evolve and give lifeguards practice every day?
  • How can we utilize non-aquatics staff to help implement drills? 
  • How are we practicing our emergency action plan and rescues with the number of guards we have on duty? 

Identifying Swimmers

  • How are we training our lifeguards on common behaviors a non-swimmer may exhibit before or during an aquatic event?
  • How are we training our lifeguards on common behaviors an individual may exhibit before or during a medical event?
  • How are we training our lifeguards on common behaviors that may suggest someone is doing or about to do breath holding?
  • How are we reinforcing and empowering lifeguards to jump in the water if they have any concerns or doubts about an individual’s behavior?
  • How are we testing our lifeguards to make sure they are constantly comprehending and identifying what is happening in their zone?

Adequate Staffing 

  • How are we giving our lifeguards adequate breaks so they can be mentally rescue ready while on scanning duty?
  • How many lifeguard staff do we expect to leave before summer programming ends?
  • How are we planning now to make sure we have an adequate number of lifeguards towards the end of summer? 
  • How can we create backup plans now if staff leave or don’t show up for their shifts? 
  • Where can we reduce hours or adjust programming for the staff we will have?
  • How are we planning now to onboard any new staff to ensure they are adequately trained? 
  • How will we transition from summer aquatic programming (camps, outdoor pools, etc.) to school-year programming (indoor pools, afterschool, childcare, membership, etc.)?