Sample Program Bad Weather/Cancellation Policy

The safety of your child(ren) is of the utmost importance to us.  We reserve the right to cancel swim lessons for any reason that puts the safety of your child(ren) at risk.

Inclement Weather:  In the case of thunderstorms or other inclement weather, we will place a notice on the website by 8:00 am the day of the lessons, as well, as update the Facebook page and voice mail greeting to announce the cancellation.

Mechanical or other issues:  We will make every effort to contact parents/guardians at the phone number provided in cases where swim lessons are cancelled for any reason other than weather. 

Make-Up Days: We have purposefully created two make-up days at the end of each two (2) week session in case a swim lesson was canceled.  The class will be made up during one of the make-up days. A refund will not be provided.

Sample Procedure for closing an indoor/outdoor pool during a lightning storm

  1. Designate a weather lookout that can monitor a weather radio, weather TV program or Internet weather information to obtain up to the minute local weather information.
  2. The pool should be cleared and bathers not allowed in the water if there is less than 30 seconds from when a flash of lightning is observed until when thunder is heard.
  3. Have customers collect their belongings and head for the locker rooms, or designated storm shelter
  4. We cannot control if customers chose to stay in the shelter.  If they chose to leave, they can do so of their own free will.
  5. The swimming pool will remain closed for thirty (30) minutes after the last thunder is heard.


Use the Flash-To-Bang (F-B) method to determine a storm’s rough distance and speed. This technique measures the time from seeing lightning to hearing associated thunder. For each five seconds from F-B, lightning is one mile away. Thus, a F-B of 10 = 2 miles; 15 = 3 miles; 20 = 4 miles; etc. (16). 

Attached to the procedure should be a facility map with the designated storm shelters.

Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI)

Even though pools are required to be disinfected to prevent people from getting sick, there are bacteria resistant to chlorine.  Two examples are Cryptosporidium and Giardia.  Depending on the chlorine level of the pool, it can take days for chlorine to kill Cryptosporidium in pool water. Since the most common RWI are spread through diarrheal events, people that are ill should not participate in swimming activities.

Below is a table that shows various disinfection times based on a Chlorine level of 1ppm (parts per million):

Chlorine Disinfection Timetable
AgentDisinfectant Times for Fecal Contaminants in Chlorinated Water
E. coli 0157:H7
less than 1 minute
Hepatitis A
approximately 16 minutes
approximately 45 minutes
approximately 15,300 minutes (10.6 days)

Lifeguarding Children Who Can’t Swim

I took the family to the pool last week and watched a young girl, that did not know how to swim, have free run of the place.  She was wearing a NON Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD).  Her dad had to save her more than once and there was no attempt by the lifeguards to redirect her to a safer vest.  The dad was not a great swimmer either and had a hard time keeping his daughter from hurting herself.

I was stunned at the lack of response by the aquatics staff.  If a family is choosing to use flotation devices for their children, lifeguards should never let children, who cannot swim, wear anything other than a Coast Guard approved PFD.

A good resource on how to select a PFD can be found here:



Who is watching the pool during rest breaks?

I have visited a few pools this summer.  One thing that always strikes me as odd is how often there is no lifeguard presence during rest breaks.  I firmly believe this is a HUGE mistake.  When customers are told the facility provides lifeguards, that means the whole time-not 45-50 minutes of an hour.

Over the past few weeks (during rest breaks), I have observed small children swimming on their own and people throwing each other into the pool.  All while there is no lifeguard on the pool deck to intervene.  A good practice is to have a supervisor observe the pool during rest breaks.

While on the topic, are rest breaks required?  The simple answer is not in most areas.  We cannot figure out where or how rest breaks started.  It is one of those things that are now legend and nobody can remember how rest breaks came to be.  Some reasons we have heard include:

  • Allow time for kids to use the restroom and prevent water borne illnesses
  • Gives small children time to rest
  • A chance for kids to re-hydrate and not drink the pool water
  • To give lifeguards a break
  • Present a time to put on sun screen.
  • So pools can sell concessions

Whatever the reason you choose to have rest breaks, a lifeguard still should be watching the pool at all times!

Lifeguard Stations

This week, I came across a pool that had a lifeguard station in the shallow end of the pool-even though there was an elevated station positioned perfectly for the lifeguard to see her entire coverage area.  The lifeguard had her back to the rest of the pool while observing about 20 people (mostly children).  The general use for an in-water lifeguard station is for catch pools at the bottom of water slides.  I have seen it used with other applications effectively, but this is not one of those times.  Let’s discuss a few reasons why:

  1. The lifeguard limited her visibility by being in the water instead of in an elevated station above the water.
  2. There was a portion of her area of responsibility she could not fully see (stairs used as an entrance and exit for the shallow end of the pool.
  3. Patrons regularly obstructed her view so she could not effectively scan her whole area.
  4. She would turn her back to half the area she was supposed to be watching while she paced.

All in all, it was a poor use of a lifeguard.

Below is an excerpt from the Lifeguard University Lifeguard Manual about lifeguard stations:


Lifeguard Stations

To provide proper surveillance, lifeguards MUST be able to see their entire area of responsibility.  There are different types of stations used to ensure that lifeguards can not only see their entire area, but also enforce rules and are able to engage patrons that need assistance.

Elevated Station    

Generally, an elevated station is the best way to maintain the best surveillance of pool patrons.  It provides a clear view of the area and allows a lifeguard to observe a large area.  A common mistake lifeguards make is forgetting to scan the area of the pool directly below their station.

Ground Station

Similar to an elevated station, a ground station is a set point for lifeguards to maintain patron surveillance.  A ground station does not allow the same range of visibility, but does allow lifeguards the ability to enforce rules and make assists easier.


A lifeguard may be assigned a roving station that allows the lifeguard to move between two or more fixed points.  It allows similar advantages as a ground station; with the added benefit of the lifeguard being able to move position based on the surveillance needs of the pool.



  • A lifeguard should not have an area of responsibility greater than a 180-degree viewing area. In short, a lifeguard should not have to turn their body to observe their area or have to look behind them to scan.
  • It should take no more than 20 seconds for a lifeguard to reach a victim. Lifeguard stations should be planned accordingly.

Summer is here! Are you following all the regulations to open?

All swimming pool regulations were managed mainly by state and local regulators (often times by local health departments), until 2007. In 2007, the federal government enacted the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act to require swimming pools to place a drain cover that prevents drowning from victims getting entrapped in the suction coming from drains of pools and spas.

Since that time, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has created a model aquatic health code it wants ALL pools across the country to follow.  We are not aware of any cities, counties or states that have adopted the model.  However, we submit that the model, at some point, will become the standard for swimming pool regulations.

OSHA and other government agencies that govern employment laws, also regulate aquatic facilities. Examples are the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and the Department of Labor.  In addition, certifying agencies (like Lifeguard University) also set standards for the certification of lifeguards.  We cannot possibly address every regulatory body and regulation that each pool may be governed by.  In many cases they vary from location to location.  For example, OSHA does not cover workers employed by state and local governments.

How much do people pee in community swimming pools?

Do people really pee in pools?  Researchers from the University of Alberta decided to find out.  They inspected multiple pools in two different cities and found, on average, the pools contained 0.009 percent urine.  Hot tubs have a higher percentage.

The next time your pool disinfectant is low, and you think it is no big deal,  please consider all of your customers.  They are swimming around in other people’s (and maybe their own) urine.  It is terribly important as aquatics professionals and lifeguards to keep our pools clean

The full research can be found here:

What is the minimum age for lifeguard certification?

The simple answer is AT LEAST 16.  However, there is a little more to it and maturity plays a big factor.  Expert opinions on the topic varies and some believe the age should be as old as 18.  There are other training agencies that will certify lifeguards at 15.  The Unites States Lifeguard Standards Coalition’s published 2011 report only gives minimal guidance on the subject.  The guidelines suggest “lower-stress and lower-risk” lifeguard jobs can be filled by 15 year olds, “higher-stress” lifeguard jobs should be performed by someone at least 16 years old.

The guidelines only give vague suggestions on what low-stress and high-stress lifeguard jobs would be.  As a training agency that does not know what kind of lifeguard job its students will be filling (low vs high stress), we put the minimum age of being certified at 16.  We have also given instructors the ability to withhold certification from anyone the instructor believes lacks the maturity to be a lifeguard.  Although somewhat subjective, maturity matters and we only want to certify people that can perform lifeguard duties in a manner that protects patrons.


First Blog Post

As we get ready to fully launch Lifeguard University in early 2018, we will provide regular updates to our progress, recent news items and general aquatic safety information.  We have lots of content that will be added over the next year and we are excited to share our knowledge and experience with you.  Certified training will start in Nebraska first before we branch out to other states.

Progress never happens in a vacuum.  We are open to all your suggestions and feedback.  Feel free to contact us below:

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