Early in the summer season, pool managers give a lot of thought to rules and protocols as they prep for their upcoming seasons. This year, our office has fielded lots of questions focused on prevention of recreational water illnesses like Cryptosporidium, Shigella and Giardia. Even with appropriate levels of chlorine or bromine, some viruses, bacteria and protozoa can remain in your water, putting your patrons at risk for gastrointestinal illness.
Protecting your swimmers requires proactive measures like rest periods and swim diaper protocol.
Rest Periods – Having short swim breaks for kids (like an adult swim) at the top of the hour gives you an opportunity not just to get kids out of the water for bathroom breaks and swim diaper changes – it also allows you to employ your lifeguard staff to go on a PR campaign and explain the necessity of swim diapers for babies and toddlers, and regular bathroom breaks for older kids. Get your guards out of rotation and send them out on to the pool deck with diapers in-hand and a well memorized script about why we use them.
Clean Bathrooms and Free Diapers – When your bathrooms are clean, more people will use them. Stock them with the three main sizes of swim diapers near the baby changing stations (a must-have nowadays). Busy parents are much more inclined to follow your new protocol if you’re making the experience convenient. Not keen on the additional cost of freebie swim diapers? Consider the costs associated with a day of shut down due to a fecal accident in your pool. The swim diaper expense is much less.
Great Communication – Changes and new rules are tough, but they go over better with lots of communication. Start with clear emails, concise signage and a well-informed staff. You may even consider soliciting feedback on your new policies prior to implementation. Remember, you’re looking for buy-in from patrons, but are not bound to it. Explain the issue, communicate your resolution and accept input. Ultimately, you’re making strong changes for the safety and well-being of swimmers. Don’t waiver on execution.
What’s the Worry? – Reports of Recreation Water Illnesses (RWI’s for short) are on the rise and are often associated with fecal contamination in your pool. The most notable RWI, Cryptosporidium can have major implications on your operation. For more information on Crypto, please view this presentation from the City of Columbus Department of Public Health: 2016 Cryptosporidum Outbreak in Central Ohio
Too Late? – Accidents happen in even the best managed pools. Our friends at the World Waterpark Association have shared their Cryptosporidium Incident Response Plan here. It serves as a great proactive and reactive tool that can be used to train your staff and educate your patrons.
For more information on proactive prevention of RWI’s, please contact our office.