Risk Management Considerations for Splash Pads

Posted: July 18, 2018
Tagged As: Legislation & Regulation, Public Health, Risk Management

Splash pads are a fun aquatic addition to any neighbourhood park.  They are a great place for children of all ages to beat the heat in a fun and safe way. Parents don't have to worry about their children swimming in deep water, or their swim level. There are no lifejackets or floaters required. Even parents have been known to have some fun with their children to cool off.

However, they are not maintenance free.  The Recreational Water Protocol, 2018 mandates inspections of these facilities by Public Health units.  This protocol provides direction for preventing or minimizing recreational water borne illnesses under the Ontario Public Health Standards published by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care under the authority of Section 7 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act
 
Image of Splash Pad

According to the Recreational Water Protocol, 2018, inspections shall be conducted prior to opening or reopening after construction or alteration of the splash pad; at least once per year while operating and after complaints; reports of illnesses, injury or death; observations from previous inspections and to monitor the safety of the splash pad.

Best Practices to Manage the Risks

The Owner/Operator of a recreational water facility should:
  • Maintain the recreational water facility in a clean and sanitary state. 
  • Maintain the water chemistry in a manner that reduces the potential for the spread of a communicable disease. 
  • Respond appropriately to adverse incidents that may affect the health of facility users. 
  • Maintain procedures and train facility staff in responding to emergency incidents (e.g. fouling of water by fecal matter). 
  • Be equipped with appropriate safety and emergency equipment to respond to the hazards associated with the use of the facility.  This may include things like a first aid kit, emergency telephone, reaching pole, buoyant throwing aid, spine board and blanket. 
  • Preform Daily Pre-Opening Checks
    • Make sure the pad area is clean and free from obstacles such as:  broken beer bottles, garbage, rocks, bird feces, grass cutting, etc. 
    • Water chemistry is correct and that all treatment and recirculation equipment is operational, if applicable
    • Grating or drain covers are securely fastened to all pipelines and fittings that terminate in the spray/splash pad
    • Fittings that terminate in the pool are flush with the edges and there are no sharp edges
    • All ground fault interrupters must be operational, if provided
    • Clear off any algae or other substances that can cause a slippery surface
    • Remember hot metallic & dark coloured surfaces could be hot and cause burns to children’s feet – isolate/modify/notify where practical 
  • Maintain a log book and keep daily records of the following:
    • Daily inspections
    • Filtration, disinfection and addition of fresh water
    • Breakdown of equipment and repairs that have occurred
    • Incident reports or emergency rescues that have occurred 
  • Create Spray/Splash Pad Rules
    • Parents or guardians are to supervise their child/children at all times
    • Children should be appropriately attired for their age and continence ability to prevent fouling of the spray pad/splash pad (e.g. swim diapers recommended)
    • Washing of hands after using the toilet or changing diapers
    • If water gets into your mouth – don’t swallow it
    • No glass containers, food, or beverage is allowed on the spray pad/splash pad or in the area immediately surrounding the spray pad/splash pad
    • Recreational water is not intended for drinking
    • Do no use the spray/splash pad if you have an open sore or rash, or are experiencing nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
    • No person shall pollute the water or surface of the spray pad/splash pad in any manner or on the immediate area surrounding the spray pad/splash pad
    • No person shall engage in boisterous play in or about the spray pad/splash pad
    • Only service animals allowed in the area 
  • Respond to fouling of spray pad/splash pads
    • Ensure users leave the spray pad/splash pad due to fouling
    • Drain the spray pad/splash pad and the recirculation system – E. Coli is very resistant, so it takes it a few laps to the drain and the chlorinator before you’re assured it’s killed
    • Clean and disinfect the spray pad/splash pad and any equipment used in accordance with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s “Fecal Incident Response Recommendations for Pool Staff” and
    • Ensure proper operation of the spray pad/splash pad prior to reopening
LAS and Frank Cowan Company partner together to offer municipalities access to information that promotes continuing awareness and action related to risk management.  You can read more risk related articles like this one by visiting the Frank Cowan Company Risk Management Centre of Excellence.

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