Use of facilities by Outside Groups
Many YMCAs will rent their facilities to an outside group or will have special events where members of an outside group are the primary (if not the only) participants in the facility or in a portion of the facility. This most commonly involves the swimming pool, but it may include more or other parts of the facility. While it may sound like good business and great community relations, there is unfortunately a very high correlation between special events and tragedy. Several young people have drowned during special events in YMCAs during the year.
The following suggestions will assist you in providing a safer and more enjoyable experience for all those who participate in special events at your YMCA… the children, the parents, and your staff.
- Require the group to provide adequate adult supervision for all participants. Adequate refers both to number and quality of attention provided. No child should ever be unattended, especially in a locker room. These chaperones are responsible for the children’s behavior and for their safety. Remember to have your staff monitor the chaperones and their charges… you are still responsible.
- Require the group to provide adult “watchers” at the swimming pool whenever children are there (many organizations are using a ratio of 1:10). These “watchers” should be in the water or on the pool deck, and they should be actively observing the children…not chatting, reading, or wandering around. They must be situated in a location from which they can either respond directly to a need or easily attract the lifeguard’s attention.
- Require every child to be swim-tested, clearly marked and protected to indicate his or her swimming ability.
- Review rules and expectations with the children before any activities begin.
- Schedule adequate lifeguards and other staff to properly supervise whatever activities the group will be doing. Err on the side of excess and include the cost in the price charged the group. Do not place your staff in the position of having to choose between perceived fun and safety.
- Require governmental-issue picture identification for all adults. Issue them temporary badges on unique backgrounds so your staff can easily identify them as being authorized to be in the YMCA.
- Require all groups to sign a waiver and indemnification agreement (for an example, see our web site). Such an agreement makes them a more serious partner in protecting their children, which benefits the entire community.
- Require groups that are businesses or corporate entities to provide proof of insurance or financial responsibility, normally in the form of a certificate of insurance.
- Remind the group that the YMCA does not allow the use of alcohol or tobacco on its premises.
If we are going to make our facilities available for special events we must rise to the challenge inherent in such activities. We have done no good deed if we allow a child to be injured, molested, or drown.
Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.