Crowds flock to the pool as the heat sets in for the summer months. Pools and waterparks have increased attendance as families bring their children to beat the heat.
The importance of water safety is top priority according to Kay Horner, Tempe aquatics program coordinator.
“Education is really important because if people are not aware of all the dangers that could happen around the water, they can’t take the steps to prevent those things,” she said.
According to the American Red Cross, the best way to stay safe is to swim in areas where there is lifeguard supervision.
For parents, age-appropriate swim lessons for their children is advised. The buddy system is also recommended at all times, whether there is a lifeguard or not.
Ms. Horner said they provide a staff of trained lifeguards to ensure the safety of the public.
“We follow all of the Maricopa County rules and laws; we provide constant and dedicated surveillance; we know water safety,” she said.
“The most important thing is that we know what it means to be safe in the water and we can provide that for our public,” she said.
Ms. Horner explained a common problem of parents assuming lifeguards to be baby-sitters. She said the lifeguards are not there to monitor the children on a “minute-by-minute” basis, but rather, to “react in an emergency” and “provide assistance.”
“We train and practice diligently so we are prepared for anything that happens in our facility,” she said.
Ms. Horner said the best water-safety tip goes back to education.
“Educate yourself about water safety and provide constant and dedicated surveillance for your family and your children,” she said.
Oasis Waterpark manager Jimmy Bills said that everything about water safety is important.
According to Mr. Bills, the waterpark makes it mandatory for lifeguards to undergo training four times a month to ensure safety.
The waterpark also hires more security and lifeguards for the summer to cope with the large crowds, he said.
Mr. Bills said one of the problems is that parents let their kids roughhouse around as the children swim without supervision. Another problem is in the hot weather, people often forget how important it is to stay hydrated, he said.
Mr. Bills explained what families need to remember.
“Watch your kids and make sure you know CPR,” he said.
Rodney Schnuelle, aquatics manager at Golfland Sunsplash, said water safety is important because if it wasn’t implemented, there would be drowning, which will “change people’s lives forever.”
Mr. Schnuelle said that one of the problems he faces is that parents leave small children unattended in the park.
“When we find them unattended, we have the child bring us to their parents and we have a discussion that small children can’t be left alone,” he said.
Heat-related issues stem from guests not hydrating enough, not being heat acclimated and not snacking during the day, he said.
He also said that sometimes there are guests who think they can swim better than they actually can.
The park does not increase security for the summer.
“Since we are a seasonal water park, our staffing, including security, is the same all season. On busier nights, we do, however, bring in additional staff and resources,” Mr. Schnuelle said.
Lifeguards who work at the park initially undergo Ellis and Associates lifeguard training, as well as a 30-hour park training to receive their lifeguard license.
Also, before the park opens each day, lifeguards are required to do drills and tests in preparation.
According to Mr. Schnuelle, vigilant and constant supervision is needed to ensure water safety. One person must be designated responsible at all times, he said.
“Two seconds of not watching can be too late. Don’t make assumptions that everyone is watching,” he said.
Editor’s note: Sarah Yong is a journalism student at the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and wrote the article as a class assignment.