As the weather warms up and we move closer to summer, pools, beaches, and waterparks across the country are coming into prime swimming season. While most public and private swimming facilities have reopened as states to pull back on COVID-19 distancing restrictions, safety awareness is still important. Following safe reopening procedures is paramount for swimmer safety and to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus, even with increased vaccination rates.
To promote safe swimming and drowning awareness, the month of May has been designated National Drowning Prevention Awareness Month by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA), one of our water safety partners. Historically, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), drowning accidents continue to occur annually among children and adults — with drowning coming in as the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide as of 2019. Education and knowledge are key to reducing these tragic numbers, and NDPA proudly continues its steadfast mission to increase swim safety in and around water.
Tips for Safely Maintaining Pool
Facilities During COVID-19
With the start of summer only weeks away, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is offering helpful tips and planning advice to safely reopen public aquatic venues amid the COVID-19 environment.
To promote behaviors that prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends:
- Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette: Remind all staff and visitors to wash their hands regularly and to cover their coughs and sneezes.
- Cloth face coverings: Wear cloth face masks wherever feasible, especially when in areas where social distancing is difficult. Do not wear face masks in the water as they can be difficult to breathe through once wet, posing safety risk.
- Staying home: Educate employees and swimmers about staying home when they experience symptoms of COVID-19 and to practice self-isolation measures if necessary.
- Providing adequate supplies: Supplies to support healthy hygiene include soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels and no-touch garbage receptacles.
- Signs and messaging: Visual communication tools are an effective reminder of hygiene best practices. To reinforce your pool safety program, post hand washing signs, face mask signs and social distancing signs and floor markers around your facility. Leverage this by regularly announcing hygiene and distancing practices over your intercom system and messaging via email, facility websites and social media channels.
To maintain healthy swimming environments, the CDC recommends:
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces such as handrails, slides, lounge chairs and pool toys and equipment.
- Ensure facility ventilation systems are operating correctly so clean air is continuously flowing.
- Check water systems (drinking faucets, hot tubs) for safe use after prolonged closure to reduce the risk of Legionnaire’s disease and other water-related diseases.
- Provide visual cues, such as posting signs, to remind employees and swimmers to stay at least 6 feet apart in the water and on the pool deck.
- Stagger the use of communal spaces and regularly disinfect shared objects after use, though sharing objects should be discouraged.
The CDC advises that those who manage and operate public swimming facilities should consult with their local officials to determine if and how to implement these precautions.
Drowning Stats At a Glance and Resources
Unintentional swim-related fatalities continue to be a leading cause of death across the country. As per the NDPA, between 3,500 and 4,000 lives are lost each year due to drowning. For children ages 1-4, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths, and drowning is listed as one of the top five causes of unintentional injury-related deaths from birth to age 54. A lack of barriers around water causes the majority of drowning deaths overall and — to strengthen the case for water safety advocacy — it can take just 20 seconds for someone to drown.
What can you do to encourage water safety and prevent accidental drowning deaths? The NDPA has several resources available to help. Visit the NDPA website to educate yourself on water safety facts, or to find out how to get involved in the National Drowning Prevention Month campaign. For pool and spa owners interested in taking steps to create a safer pool environment for guests, learn how you can better protect people and reduce risk through pool safety signs that work together as a system to get noticed and deliver impact.
Clarion Safety: Here to Support
Your Water Safety Visuals Program
Clarion Safety is proud to support the month of May as National Drowning Prevention Month and its goal to promote water safety. Whether you’re a swim facility readying to reopen or need to get your swim safety signage up to date with today’s best practices, Clarion Safety has the pool safety signs to keep swimmers safe and fulfill your legal “duty to warn.” Our signs are a truly new approach to reducing risk. They use state-of-the-art graphical symbols, color, language and special formatting to communicate core safety messages. And, they have proven results; it’s the only sign system on the market today that’s been tested by viewers (with comprehension testing administered by the NDPA) and proven to be quickly recognized and easily understood. Get in touch with our team today to discuss how we can help increase safety at your pool, beach or waterpark.
This blog was originally posted on 5/15/12 and has been updated with new information throughout.