Pool Protocols

20 Jun

Letterbalm Lifeguard SignDear LetterBalm: For the second summer in a row, I’m the chief lifeguard at the local public community pool. Schools are getting out for the summer this week, and I’m dreading it. Most of the kids are great, and it’s a lot of fun being around them. But there are always some who act like jerks. They mouth off, fight, bully the younger kids and don’t obey posted rules. They usually don’t have parental supervision – their parents drop them off with money to buy lunch and leave them all day. I need to have some strategies to deal with these kids, including what my team and I can do to stop their bad behavior in its tracks.

–Drowning in Bratty Behavior

This is a matter more about preemptive rules than what you can say after the fact. Lifeguards aren’t babysitters. Ms. L.B. can’t believe that fear of litigation hasn’t forced your community board to stipulate that unsupervised children will not be allowed in the pool. It is hoped that all safety rules and pool policies are clearly posted. (It’s also a good idea for you and your team to designate an onlooker to take cellphone photos, if possible, and an informal written diary of dates and incidents in case you need evidence.) Talk to your supervisor, and suggest that these rules be presented to the local board as soon as possible – the language is pretty strict; you can tweak it. It may be too late for this summer, but you certainly can get the ball rolling:

  • Children under age 14 without adult supervision will not be allowed in the pool or the pool area.
  • There is zero tolerance for rough-housing, pushing, bullying or fighting. These actions will result in immediate expulsion from the pool and pool area for the day.
  • No running.
  • No food or drink in the pool.
  • No glass containers in the pool area.
  • No interfering with safety gear, pool drain covers, pool fence, pumps or other equipment.
  • All swimmers and pool visitors will immediately obey directives from lifeguards, law enforcement and other authorized personnel.
  • Lifeguards reserve the right to eject repeated offenders from the pool and pool area for the season.
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