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Diving into Summer: Pool Safety Tips for your Club

Swimming Pool Safety: The Most Important Responsibility In Your Clubhouse

Golf course managers know swimming pools and hot tubs are popular clubhouse features. They’re also an important responsibility and potential liability. With prime summer swimming season upon us, it’s a good idea to re-visit pool safety and accident prevention.

Some Sobering Statistics

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the U.S. Every day, about 10 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning, including two children 14 years old and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

More than half of all drowning victims treated in emergency rooms require hospitalization or transfer for additional care. These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that could lead to long-term disabilities.

Most at risk among the American population are males – nearly 80 percent of people who die from drowning are male – and children. Drowning claims more lives of children ages 1-4 than any other cause except birth defects. Among children ages 1-14, fatal drowning ranks second behind motor vehicle accidents for unintentional injury-related death.

Factors That Influence Drowning Risk

The leading factors that affect drowning risk include:

  • Lack of swimming ability
  • Lack of barriers, such as pool fencing, to prevent unsupervised water access
  • Lack of close supervision while swimming
  • Location
  • Alcohol use (among adolescents and adults, alcohol use is involved in up to 70 percent of drowning deaths)
  • Seizure disorders

Minimizing Accidental Drowning Risk at Your Pool

Your swim facility must meet the minimum state law requirements, including specific safety standards. If it doesn’t, lives are potentially endangered. In addition, your facility may be subject to fines or closure.

Below are steps you can take to minimize the risk of an accidental drowning occurring at your club’s pool:

  • Review and, if necessary, implement the guidelines laid out in the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act), which addresses child safety in public pools and spas. Though your clubhouse pool isn’t necessarily open to the public, the P&SS Act applies. One definition of public pools in the act are those open exclusively to members of an organization and their guests.
  • Closely monitor the consumption of alcohol by members and guests in and around your pool.
  • Install and maintain perimeter fencing/barriers, including self-closing and latching gates, to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Determine if a Red Cross-certified lifeguard is required for your pool.
  • If no lifeguard is required, be sure required signage is clearly displayed.
  • Keep all safety equipment accessible, clearly marked, and in good repair.
  • Clearly mark pool depth.
  • Provide clean shower and bathroom facilities.
  • Keep pool clear of debris.
  • Properly maintain pool water with appropriate chemicals.
  • Provide safe storage for all chemicals.
  • Supply personal protective equipment and training for anyone handling pool chemicals.
  • Provide clear signage to convey rules, regulation, safety, and emergency procedures.
  • Keep pool deck free of puddles and algae growth.
  • Ensure non-slip surfaces are in good repair at all times.
  • Maintain outdoor furniture in clean, operable condition.
  • If minor children are allowed, establish clear rules about supervision.
  • Ensure staff strictly enforce all rules and policies.

Proper pool safety reduces the chance of member and guest injury, permanent disability, or death. Doing so also creates a relaxing environment and protects your business reputation.

Review your swimming pool safety efforts with your staff, and look to your commercial insurance broker for their input. Ensure you have policies that properly cover your pool area.

David A. Harnois, CCM, CPL, is a proud employee owner of VGM Insurance Services, specializing in commercial and group program business. David provides insurance solutions for clubs through his VGM Club endorsed program. David can be reached at 319-800-6676 or at david.harnois@vgm.com.

 

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