Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatics Safety Expert
When it comes to swimming pool accidents and litigation, aquatic facilities often commit two serious mistakes: not having rescue equipment conspicuous and accessible, and not keeping good chemical records.
1. Water rescue equipment: Although most swimming pools comply with the public pool mandate stating rescue equipment like Ring Buoys and Sheppard’s Crooks must be available, too often these vitally important water rescue items are hidden from view and not conspicuous to the would-be rescuer. When a swimmer does become distressed, Good Samaritans often run around looking for something to throw to or reach the victim. On too many occasions, although effective rescue equipment has been available, the equipment has not been readily recognizable or accessible to the potential rescuer. Sometimes these items have been placed on the pool deck under lounge chairs or hidden behind landscaping. No matter where they are located, unfortunately the would-be rescuer is not able to easily recognize them and tragically does not use them. To remedy this situation, we strongly recommend creating rescue stations at swimming pools. These stations can be developed inexpensively. Sometimes paint, a wall, and hooks are all you need. The words “Rescue Station” should be boldly marked where the Ring Buoy, Sheppard’s Crooks, AED, and emergency phone can all be mounted. Simple instructions for use of the equipment would also be helpful. Above all, this Rescue Station must be conspicuous to all those who enter the pool area.
2. Chemical Pool Logs: Although Health Departments require daily chemical readings to be recorded several times each day, far too many pool operators either do a poor job of entering the readings, fail to record any readings at all, or simply forge their readings. Pool owners and operators must be vigilant in this area. They must insure all recordings are entered for each required chemical on a daily basis. Understanding what each value means is also important. When a lawsuit is filed against a public pool owner or operator, the chemical log sheet will be subpoenaed. When that happens, the chemical log will be closely examined for accuracy, completeness, and truthfulness. Often an inadequate chemical pool log is used as critical evidence against an inadequately maintained swimming pool.
Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatics Safety Expert with DJS Associates, Inc., can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.