Winter outdoor swimming locations
The simplest kind of winter outdoor swimming location contains a warm changing room, a hole in the ice and steps leading into the hole. The party maintaining the winter outdoor swimming location, i.e. the service provider, is responsible for the safety of the location. The service provider may be, for example, a municipality, a parish, an association or a company. The service provider is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the buildings, devices, routes and equipment of the winter outdoor swimming location. The service provider is also responsible for ensuring that sufficient information about the safety of the service is provided for the users of the service, related to issues such as the depth of the water or the currents.
Documents in order
Draw up a safety document on the winter outdoor swimming location. In drawing up the safety document, take the winter outdoor swimming location’s user groups, the number of users and the special characteristics of the location into account.
If the winter outdoor swimming location is a part of a public swimming pool, spa or other larger collection of services, include its safety document as a part of the safety document of the public swimming pool, spa or other larger service package.
Identify the risks
You can use Tukes’ instructions and tools to identify risks. You should take especially the following into account in identifying the risks of winter outdoor swimming locations:
- slipping on the routes and on stairs
- weather conditions and darkness
- currents in the water
- hazards caused to people moving on the ice and other outsiders
- swimming alone
- risks related to the sauna as well as the washing areas and changing rooms, such as protection for the sauna heater, slipping.
Monitoring the winter outdoor swimming location
Assess the need for lifeguarding at the winter outdoor swimming location. The more popular the winter outdoor swimming location is and the more special hazards are linked to the location, the more need there is for lifeguarding.
Preconditions for successful lifeguarding include lifeguards with sufficient cold water rescue skills, the possibility of observing the customers coming to the winter outdoor swimming location, visibility over the whole swimming area in all conditions, and the possibility of limiting or preventing access to the winter outdoor swimming location, if necessary. Camera surveillance is often a necessary tool for more efficient monitoring, depending on the location and visibility of the winter outdoor swimming location.
If it is not possible to arrange monitoring without gaps, Tukes recommends that the service provider prohibit the customers from swimming alone at the winter outdoor swimming location.
Providing information to consumers
Place a signboard at the winter outdoor swimming location stating at least the following:
- street address or other address of the winter outdoor swimming location and the name of the area
- emergency number 112 and instructions on how to call for help
- coordinates of the location to make it easier for the rescue personnel to find the place; you can print out the coordinates in the coordinate service (the 112.fi service www.112.fi)
- contact information of the party responsible for maintenance.
Place the instructions on the winter outdoor swimming location and its safety outside at the pier or on the wall of the changing rooms so that they are visible to everyone. Safety instructions can include, for example, the following:
- Instructions for swimmers
- Rules and regulations of the location
- Safety instructions, such as reporting defects and vandalism
- A map of the area
- Information about the depth of the water
- Information about possible water currents in the hole in the ice
- Water quality measurement records
- First aid and resuscitation instructions
Warn the people moving on ice about the hole in the ice. Mark the ice with highly visible and reflective safety bunting, for example. Limit the area around the hole in the ice at a sufficient distance and monitor the thickness of the ice around the restricted area.
Electrical safety at winter outdoor swimming locations
Follow the regulations on electrical safety in the planning and installation of light fixtures and electricity at the winter outdoor swimming location. Only registered professional electricians can carry out actual electrical work.
All electrical appliances that can be touched by swimmers while in the water or after a swim must operate on protective voltage, meaning that the rated voltage is either 12 V AC or 30 V DC. The enclosure class of electrical appliances submerged in water must be IP68.
Equipment used to stop the hole from freezing over can be mains-connected. Protect such equipment with a residual-current device of 30 mA at minimum and place it in a location where it cannot be touched by swimmers while in the water or going in or coming out of the water.