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New Era in Pool Safety Signs

Why ‘List of Rules’ Signs Don’t Measure Up
The flaw in most pool safety signage in use today is that it doesn’t grab people’s attention. This is especially true of the “list of rules” signs mandated by most state and municipal codes; they miss the point of what a safety sign should do. Safety signs are meant to make people aware of the most hazardous aspects of their environment and inform them about how to avoid serious injury or death. If you’re using list-of-rules signs, watch the people who visit your pool facility, you’ll see that they walk right past them…and for good reason. These text-only signs typically have one or two serious life-preserving messages buried among other rules, rules that are trivial in comparison. In this day and age, people are highly visually literate (meaning they see and understand images rapidly), so text-only safety signs are often ignored, making them useless in achieving the goal of safety communication.

New Signs Developed by Experts in Aquatics and the Safety Sign Standards
Changing the situation described above – the inadequacy of “list of rules” signs in today’s culture – was the goal of the project that Clarion undertook with the world-renowned pool safety consulting firm, the Aquatic Safety Research Group, headed by Dr. Tom Griffiths. Together, we evaluated the signage in current use, then re-engineered and redesigned it using ANSI and ISO sign best practice design principles.

Before beginning any design work, the Aquatic Safety Research Group analyzed data related to causes of aquatic injuries and fatalities. They also looked at award settlements that resulted from lawsuits brought against pool owners. Using this information, the Aquatic Safety Research Group determined the most important safety messages that needed to be conveyed to pool users. Clarion then used its expertise in global safety standards and semiotics (the science of how signs and symbols communicate) to develop the sign designs meant to convey these essential safety messages. Finally, we hired a leading human factors consulting firm, Applied Safety and Ergonomics, to design a comprehension test protocol that the National Drowning Prevention Alliance then used to test our sign designs for understanding. Various age groups across the country participated in the study. The results were exceptional – the new signs successfully communicated the essential messages that the Aquatic Safety Research Group had determined needed to be conveyed in aquatic environments. The new era in pool safety signs had begun.

Our collaborative efforts mean that our pool safety sign system has a number of distinguishing – and revolutionary – characteristics which are meant to better protect people from harm in aquatic environments. Endorsed by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, our pool safety sign system is now recognized as the state-of-the-art in its field.

About the Experts Behind the System

Geoffrey Peckham is CEO of Clarion Safety Systems and has been actively advancing visual safety communication for more than two decades. He currently chairs the ANSI Z535 Committee (the committee in charge of the principle industry standards related to safety sign best practices). He also heads ANSI's U.S. technical advisory group to ISO/TC 145 (the ISO standards committee responsible for global safety sign standardization).





Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., is a renowned aquatic safety expert. The founder of the Aquatic Safety Research Group, Griffiths served as the Director of Aquatics and Safety Officer for Athletics at Penn State University for nearly 25 years. He has been involved in all phases of aquatics and water safety for 30 years and has published over 300 articles and three books. In 2005, and again in 2006 and 2013, Griffiths was profiled by Aquatics International as one of "the 25 most powerful people in the world of aquatics – including superstar gold medalist Michael Phelps." In 2014 he published the third revision of “The Complete Swimming Pool Reference,” the industry’s recognized go-to resource for nearly all topics related to pool safety.



About Our Comprehension Testing
The four key symbol-based signs in our pool safety sign system have undergone extensive comprehension testing, performed through a partnership with nationwide experts, to measure whether or not audiences of various ages understood their messages. Protecting people from harm is the first and foremost goal of the new sign system. The secondary goal is to provide you, the pool owner who installs the system, with the evidence needed to prove you have met your legal duty to warn. View more detailed results of our pool safety sign system comprehension testing.

Do You Need Pool Safety Signs?
View safety signs in our online catalog
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