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No Lifeguard On Duty Signs: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the importance of having a lifeguard in public swimming pools?

A.

As much fun as it is, swimming is also one of the most life-threatening sports, and to ensure safety, a lifeguard is required in public swimming pools. Lifeguards are important for the following reasons:

  • General Safety: Lifeguard quickly observes a distressed pool user within their supervision area and reaches that person immediately.
  • First Aid: A lifeguard provides basic first aid like CPR and emergency care and identifies and manages injuries like shock, fractures, arterial and venal bleeding, spinal injury, etc.
  • Legal Requirement: Lifeguards are important when the law requires public pools to have them.
  • Insurance Policies: Many insurance policies require lifeguards for the policy to stay valid and to reduce the liability insurance costs.

Q. Does posting a “No Lifeguard On Duty” sign mean that owners can get away with any liability for accidents in their pools?

A.

No. While having posted warnings may help public pool owners avoid some liability, it does not necessarily mean that they cannot be held accountable for a pool accident. Even after posting a “No Lifeguard on Duty” sign, a successful lawsuit against your pool or product liability is still possible.

The courts take the final call only after assessing the entire case. Even with a pool owner’s intention to display proper signage, an act of negligence by the pool staff or any other factor often becomes the basis of a pool liability case against pool owners/operators. Courts have done little to clarify the issue, sometimes ruling in favor of owners/operators of pools not guarded by a lifeguard and sometimes ruling against them. Having said that, some states require No Lifeguard on Duty Signs, which will certainly be helpful in case of any accidents.

Q. What are the responsibilities of a lifeguard in public pools?

A.

Responsibilities of a lifeguard in public pools include:

  • - Maintaining general yet constant surveillance of pool users
  • - Providing first aid until the arrival of emergency medical services
  • - Responding quickly in case of an emergency by activating the Emergency Action Plan (EAP)
  • - Presenting a professional appearance and attitude at all times
  • - Performing miscellaneous duties when not performing surveillance
  • - Documenting any incidents and/or injuries
  • - Inspecting pool facilities, equipment, and water to ensure that they are safe and usable.

Q. Where should “No Lifeguard On Duty” signs be posted?

A.

The exact requirement for the location of a “No Lifeguard on Duty” sign is set by the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction). However, most states, counties, or cities require posting signs at conspicuous locations.

For example, South Carolina requires “Two or more signs to be provided and clearly visible to anyone entering the pool. These signs are required on all Type “B”, “C”, “D”, “F”, and “G” pools that do not have lifeguards.”
Similarly, South Dakota requires a “WARNING: NO LIFEGUARD” sign at the entrance(s) and inside the wading pool area.

Pools at hotels, motels, vacation properties, apartments, and other facilities are mostly required to affix the “No Lifeguard” signs to a wall, pole, gate, or similar permanent structure visible to all pool users.

Q. What is the letter height requirement for the text - “No Lifeguard On Duty”?

A.

Most state laws require the text "Warning--No Lifeguard on Duty" in legible lettering, at least four inches high. This specification is required by major states Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas, and more.

Some states like South Carolina can go beyond this measurement (six-inch), while others set the limit a little lower. Each state, county, or city law may have its own requirement for the letter height of the “No Lifeguard” signs, and it is best to check the law before ordering a sign for your pool online.

Q. How many lifeguards are required on duty at a pool?

A.

The number of lifeguards required at a pool depends on state law or local ordinance, pool type, pool size, usage (normal or busy pools), and other pool circumstances. According to WHO , following calculation is done:

Some statistics also suggest that a minimum of one lifeguard is required on deck for every 25 swimmers. Having said that, two lifeguards (one on the stand and the other on the deck) are always a good idea so that both lifeguards can rotate, provide a break to each other in regular intervals for active supervision, and act as a backup in case of an emergency.

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