• Waterparks work hard for your safety
• H2O is essential
Spending fun days at Midwest waterparks is one of the great American pastimes for the young and old. Along with the fun, there are also necessary plans for safety that need to be considered.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
It takes a village to prevent harm at waterparks, from properly trained lifeguards to knowledgeable staff to maintain the quality and safety of the pools and other areas.
Midwest waterparks hold their staff and facilities to the highest standards to ensure fun and safe visits for everyone.
At Maui Sands Resort and Waterpark, Sandusky, OH, Nicholas Vaughn, Vice President of Marketing and Waterpark Operations, is familiar with the special needs and incorporates them into running a well-kept and safe atmosphere. “We have approximately 20 lifeguards and several supervisors fully encompassing our respective pools, lazy river, hot tub, kids’ areas, tube slides, and other amenities leaving no area without direct line of sight.”
Thatcher Robertson, Kalahari Resorts Corporate Director of Waterparks, also takes training seriously. Lifeguards at all of their three resorts undergo a 40-hour training before they begin safeguarding their guests poolside.
Keeping hydrated in the heat is crucial. Robertson shares that all of their lifeguards are given a large resort water bottle to have with them at all times. They also have special cooling towels to throw over their necks to keep them cool and alert in the warm temperatures.
It’s not just the lifeguards that need to stay hydrated. Robertson makes sure they have plenty of water coolers and cups throughout the parks so guests can stay in top form.
Marc Playman, Wilderness Resort Risk Manager, takes the heat seriously and does everything possible to ensure the safety of his staff and guests.
Playman notes that OSHA does not regulate high heat work environments, but instead enforces the general duty clause requiring employers to have a workplace free of recognized hazards, heat stress being one. They require employers to mitigate the hazard by making sure employees know how to recognize heat illnesses as they are unable to control the high heat environments. Wilderness, therefore, has put in place a complete heat illness prevention and recognition program.
Some steps the Wilderness Resort takes to handle the heat:
1. All new employees receive on-boarding safety training that includes recognition of heat related illnesses.
2. We conduct specialized training to affected employees on heat illness recognition, prevention, watching for signs of heat stress in co-workers, guests, and themselves. Affected employees are outdoor lifeguards, inside laundry, and outdoor grounds maintenance professionals.
3. We monitor heat indices using the OSHA app and we send out reminders to all staff when indexes are 95 and above.
4. On high heat index days we place hydration stations in the locations outlined in the heat index email; outdoor water parks, outside grounds, golf, and laundry.
5. We use Gatorade/Power Aid as hydration and it is free to all employees.
6. Risk Management monitors employee health and we provide cooling rooms throughout the resort to provide affected employees with a cool environment, rest, hydration, and shade, as recommended by OSHA.
Water and Maintenance Safety
Vaughn also runs a tight ship to make sure guests have a fun and safe experience. “We have staff solely dedicated to only the waterpark in terms of maintenance and upkeep. There’s a regular review rotation when the waterpark is operating and logs are kept by our crew that require analysis of our chlorine, pH, water temperature, and similar items related to the safety and comfort of our guests.”
Fun at the waterpark takes a lot of preparation and skill behind the scenes. Fortunately, in the Midwest there are plenty of top notch people and facilities to keep guests entertained and safe!