Aquatic Safety Issues


During visits to various YMCAs, we observed conditions which are inconsistent with safe operating procedures. The following standards should be enforced to protect your patrons, your employees, and your YMCA.

  1. Lifeguards should be: a) easily identifiable, b) prepared to get in the pool at a moment’s notice. Thus, they should always wear a standardized, easily recognizable uniform while on duty, generally consisting of a swimsuit and a tee shirt identifying them as a lifeguard. (We observed inappropriate attire including some or all of the following: sweat pants, jeans, shorts, dresses, sandals, street shoes and socks.)
  2. Lifeguards should carry a rescue buoy with them at all times while on duty. Keeping the buoy near the guard chair is inadvisable, as it necessitates a return to the chair before affecting a rescue. (We observed some life bouys hanging while the lifeguard worked the deck and some pools without accessible life buoys.)
  3. Lifeguards should strictly enforce safe pool behavior in the pool area. (We observed people jumping on and/or dunking each other, general roughhousing, and similar behavior.)
  4. Lifeguards should perform deep-water testing before allowing swimmers to use the deep end of the pool. The test could consist of swimming the length of the pool followed immediately by 1 minute of treading water in the deep end. Swimmers who pass the test should be issued a brightly colored wristband to wear during the time they are in the pool. (We observed children who clearly could not swim more than a couple of strokes playing in the deep end of the pool, clutching at their playmates when away from the pool edge, endangering both themselves and their friends.)

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.


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