Hosting an event at a waterpark makes for a lively and memorable experience for everyone involved. Waterpark resorts have many positives: most locations offer plenty of meeting space, overnight guest rooms, restaurants, teambuilding activities and an overall unique ambiance for bringing groups together in a casual setting. Unlike traditional resorts that only offer a couple of swimming pools and golf courses, waterparks can be equipped with extreme water rides, wave pools, lazy rivers and pools of various depths. Waterparks are held to high safety standards and are expected to meet or exceed the minimum number of lifeguards on duty. Some parks make it a point to have the most updated lifesaving equipment on hand. Even with many on-duty lifeguards, group leaders should take precautions and prepare for the unexpected.
Next, prepare for, but also attempt to avoid, typical waterpark debacles:
Sunburn. The bright sun is notorious for causing injury to pool-goers but the problem with sunburns is the occurrence happens slowly. Even on a cloudy day the sun can do damage, so urge attendees to apply sunscreen and reapply often. Some waterparks generously offer free sunscreen throughout the park. If this is the case, point out the locations to attendees. If an attendee does start to turn pink encourage him or her to take a break in the shade, apply aloe to the affected area and drink plenty of water.
Dehydration. Even though swimmers may be submerged in water most of the day, dehydration can and should be prevented. Have a water cooler or water bottles available for the group all day long. If someone does end up dehydrated, move them to a cool location to sit or lie down, have him or her sip liquid and, if the case is severe, seek medical attention.
Falls. The “no running” rule will likely be enforced at any waterpark you visit, and for good reason, but it’s inevitable that slips and falls can happen even to the most careful of walkers. If someone in your group falls, assess their condition and if there is pain contact the waterpark’s medical personnel to ensure there are no broken bones or signs of a more serious injury. If the injury is minor, a small bag of ice or bandages for scratches may be all that is needed.
Near drowning. A near drowning qualifies as a nightmare waterpark emergency situation. Quite frankly, this situation should never come close to occurring. Avoiding a drowning takes a combination of attentiveness from lifeguards, guardian awareness (for families) and knowing one’s limitations. The latter meaning non-swimmers, or those who are not strong swimmers, should never be in the deep area or wave pool. However, if such a situation occurs, waterpark officials should be notified immediately and local medical services should be called (911) for immediate transport to the closest hospital. Don’t forget to call the patient’s emergency contact to pass along pertinent information including which hospital the person is being sent to for medical attention.
The Do’s of Waterpark Safety
- Do apply and reapply sunscreen
- Do ask attendees to use proper life vests. Each waterpark is different which means rules for floatation devices vary. Some parks don’t allow any type of air-filled life devices but others may allow or provide approved life vests.
- Do remind event attendees to follow waterslide and pool rules.
- Do remind guests to observe “no diving” signs that are posted throughout waterparks for good reason. Most water areas are extremely shallow.
- Do work with the waterpark to arrange for a lifeguard to go over safety issues before your group jumps in.
- Do know where the resort’s first-aid station is located.
- Do send a safety checklist to attendees before the event. Include a checklist of basic must-have’s for the day including water shoes, sunscreen and the location of the waterpark’s first-aid station. Include important phone numbers or any information that will help attendees prevent injuries or assist if something unexpected does occur. When it comes to waterpark safety, prevention is the best method.