Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert ::::
Membership Fitness Clubs have become extremely popular in America during the last couple of decades, offering all types of workouts and fitness activities during all hours of the day. But a recent case highlights the many and varied problems Fitness Clubs face when it comes to their swimming pools.
Swimming pools in most Fitness Clubs are not required to have lifeguards on duty and therefore become “Swim at Your Own Risk” pools. The problem with this approach is that when an emergency does arise in the swimming pool, there is no trained professional available in the pool area to respond in a timely fashion. It should be strongly stated that older populations are now the only age group experiencing an increase in drowning deaths.
When a drowning incident occurs in a swimming pool, seconds count. Even though lifeguards are not required for Fitness Club swimming pools, Fitness Club staff must be trained to check on the swimming pool regularly and have Layers of Protection in place to help others in the pool who may experience distress. Some of the strategies that could have and should have been put into place at this Fitness Club include, but are not limited to:
- A pool attendant with some safety training assigned to the pool.
- Regular patrols to the pool whenever it is open to members.
- A conspicuous emergency button located at the pool so that all staff throughout the facility are alerted of a pool emergency.
- An AED located in the pool area.
- A rescue station with rescue equipment and directions for use.
- A ban on solo swimming, etc.
It must be remembered that the majority of Fitness Club swimming pools are five-feet deep or less. This makes water rescue and response easy and safe if people are simply trained to watch the water.
Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert with DJS Associates, can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.