Managers of pools and other aquatic centers are generally well-versed in emergency response strategies. Lifeguards are highly trained in swim rescue techniques, CPR, and first aid. However, they may not be as well prepared for more large-scale emergencies that affect large groups of people: fires, mechanical or chemical hazards, severe weather, or threatening behavior. Those risks are ever-present as well, and require a well-developed plan for managing evacuations or other crisis scenarios.
Whether you operate a small indoor swim facility or manage a multi-acre waterpark, communication is almost always a challenge. Background noises from activity, machinery, and conversation combined with the natural reverb of the environment make speech difficult to hear even under normal conditions. This minor everyday inconvenience is exacerbated in emergencies, with dangerous consequences. Panic and confusion in a crowd greatly increases the risk of injuries. When safety is on the line, it is vital that your staff members have the proper sound equipment to clearly communicate with large groups of people on a moment’s notice.
Portable sound systems provide the essential communication support that your staff needs for unpredictable emergency situations. Systems are available in a variety of designs to serve different functions, but one central purpose is common to all: providing reliable, grab-and-go communication to calm, direct, and inform large groups of people in times of crisis.
Megaphones: Always Ready for Quick Action. Handheld megaphones provide your staff with power and versatility to direct crowds at a moment’s notice. These easy-to-use sound systems are the epitome of grab-and-go design, especially when equipped with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to reduce weight and provide long-lasting charges.
The power needed for effective communication with a megaphone depends on the size and design of your swim center. A 15-watt megaphone can easily be heard in an indoor space of up to 10,000 square feet with noise levels below 90db. Outdoors, that same megaphone will be effective for distances up to a quarter-mile, depending on the ambient noise levels.
Additional features to look for in megaphone products include:
- Highly durable construction. For the ultimate in waterproof, shockproof design, consider specialty megaphones that meet or exceed IP67 (Ingress Protection) standards for dust and water submersion (waterproof) and MIL-STD810F 516.5 specification for shock absorption.
- Siren/whistle functions to draw attention.
- Volume control for use in non-emergency situations.
- Integrated signal lights to help with visibility in dark or smoky conditions.
Hailer systems allow for centrally coordinated communication. Clear messages from team leaders help to prevent confusion or contradictory directions. To communicate throughout a large area from a single source, powerful Half Mile Hailer systems are a versatile option. Unlike megaphones, Hailers are freestanding systems that connect to wired or wireless microphones. Easy to set up and highly portable, a single Hailer can deliver clear sound over 15,000 square feet of outdoor space. Hailer systems are also available in multi-speaker configurations and even roof-mounted styles for vehicles, increasing the range of communication to meet your needs.
Emergency leadership may need to direct response teams and guests from remote locations. Sound systems can provide closed communication networks to cover very large areas, like multi-pool waterparks, using MURS two-way radios and radio-connected Hailer systems. Multiple systems can be set up in seconds in locations up to a mile apart, allowing for the broadest communication coverage from a single command center.
Hailer products and other portable systems can also be used effectively in larger indoor pool areas. Most indoor swimming pool facilities have acoustic properties that support a lot of reverberation, otherwise known as decay. Decay is the amount of time, usually in seconds, or fractions of a second, that it takes for a sound to completely dissipate from the instant it is first generated. To maximize the audibility and clarity of indoor sound systems, position the system to take advantage of any soundproofing wall panels or other acoustical design features of the facility.
Portable sound systems are versatile, effective tools to ensure the safety of your aquatic center. Easy to use and ready to go, they improve communication in any crowd control situation – which means improved safety for your guests. A small investment in reliable sound equipment can make all the difference in a crisis, and should be a central element of any emergency response plan.
About the Author: Don Roth is CEO of AmpliVox Sound Systems, which designs and manufactures top-quality portable sound equipment for law enforcement, fire/EMS teams, military use, private security, and many other applications. Visit Ampli.com to learn more.