U.S. Water Park Safety

Overview

  • There are approximately 1,000 commercial and municipal water parks in the United States.
  • More than 80 million people safely visit America's water parks annually making it one of the safest forms of recreation available to the public.

Key areas include:
Safety
Lifeguard Training
Water Quality
Water park safety tips

Safety 

  • The water park industry is a responsible, professional industry, subject to a thorough set of internal safety checks and independent examinations.
  • Water parks comply with any pertinent governmental codes and requirements and designates operational and maintenance staff to work closely with its insurer to develop and implement the newest safety procedures.
  • Water parks implement programs related to maintenance, operations, and personnel training to ensure guest safety.
  • Inspection and maintenance programs are divided into hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly activities.
  • They follow detailed manufacturer guidelines and many use outside specialty companies to periodically re-inspect attractions and test and train employees.
  • Nationwide industry standards covering such areas as design, operations, water quality, and staffing have been completed (American National Standards Institute) or will soon be (ASTM International). These independent standards-writing bodies incorporated the expertise and consensus-based guidelines established by consumer advocates, government officials, water park operators, suppliers, and manufacturers.
  • Safety is a partnership between parks and patrons. IAAPA encourages guests to utilizing "Guest Relations" offices, review website information, read signage, and adhere to verbal commands, especially with regard to height, weight, skill level, and health restrictions. This partnership is particularly important in light of the wider scope of guest freedom inherent in water park attractions.
  • The industry also encourages children and weak swimmers to wear Coast Guard-approved Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs), which are often offered on-site.
  • Many water parks offer swimming lessons and water safety training.
  • IAAPA created water park safety tips.
Lifeguard Training
  • Safety is water park's number 1 priority.
  • Today’s professional lifeguards are trained to deliver an increasingly high standard of care.
  • IAAPA provides training products including webinars and education sessions to ensure members are in-the-know about water park safety.
  • Lifeguards earn required authorization through a formalize training process before they can staff an attraction.
  • Employees are trained in accordance to any relevant public laws using procedures established by the facility, manufacturers, insurersand, and by accredited organizations including Ellis & Associates, Red Cross, YMCA, or NASCO.
  • Instructional areas cover water safety, CPR, first aid, and crowd control, the use of automated external defibulators, backboards, and oxygen delivery. Consequently, water park lifeguards are well-trained in responding not only to water-related emergencies, but in spotting and reacting to life-threatening medical situations as well. 
  • In-service training is done on a continual basis and covers such specific operational aspects as guest service, scanning and vigilance techniques, safe water entry/exit, incident recognition, rescue procedures, and physical conditioning drills.
  • Staff are subject to surprise audits and participate in emergency simulations, including periodic practice with local first-response authorities.

Water Quality

  • Water quality is regularly evaluated and maintained.
  • Facilities work with outside consultants and government agencies to meet the highest public health standards.
  • There are protocols involving water parks, manufacturers, and government agencies that result in the reporting of possible or actual problems regarding guest safety.
  • IAAPA, manufacturers, and other industry associations provide ongoing safety seminars to allow broad dissemination of relevant expertise and data through discussion of the latest advances, standards, and techniques.
  • Cases of water-borne illnesses at water parks are extremely rare and extraordinary measures are taken to keep this record intact. This is especially true in the prevention of cryptosporidium (KRIP-toe-spo-rid-ee-um) contamination.
  • Water park managers are well aware of the challenges posed by “crypto” and have been proactive in aggressively promoting sound hygienic practices and prevention techniques to stop contamination before it starts.
  • Personnel are trained to ensure infants and young children entering the water wear specially-designed disposable swimwear to help prevent leaks. (Many facilities keep this type of swimwear available on-site, further encouraging parents to join with staff in implementing these rules.)
  • Certified specialists test the water throughout the day and follow state and local codes.
  • The prevention of disease transmission is a partnership with water park patrons. Water parks encourage patrons to learn more about how they can help ensure the safe enjoyment of aquatic facilities for themselves as well as their fellow guests.
  • Visit the CDC’s Healthy Swimming website at www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming and learn more about how to safely enjoy water parks this summer.

The CDC recommends all swimmers be vigilant in following three basic guidelines to prevent disease transmission:

1. Do not swim if you have diarrhea. This is especially important for children in diapers.
2. Do NOT swallow the pool water. Try to avoid getting water in your mouth if possible.
3. Practice good hygiene and shower before swimming. Also, wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet or changing diapers.

In addition to these steps, the CDC has issued these additional recommendations for parents with young children:

1. Take your children to the bathroom often throughout the day.
2. Change diapers in a bathroom and away from the pool. Germs can be spread from objects around the pool.
3. Wash your child thoroughly with soap and water before going swimming.

Review IAAPA's water park safety tips.