If a crypto outbreak or a significant increase in cases is reported in your area, expect to field a barrage of inquiries from patrons, whether crypto has been linked to your pool or not. Here are several strategies for effective communication with the public regarding a crypto event.
• Establish healthy swimming policies. Provide signage and
other materials, such as brochures and e-mail messages, to educate
patrons and explain appropriate behavior.
• Educate your staff and train them to enforce healthy
swimming practices and policies.
• Directly communicate healthy swimming behaviors to group
users — such as swim teams, day care centers, camps or
after-school programs — and assist program leaders in
informing participants and parents by providing materials
explaining appropriate behavior.
• Work with those who handle public relations and
communications to include healthy swimming guidelines in any
general information Web sites, brochures and other
• Assist the public relations staff in developing a crisis
communications message strategy aimed at patrons.
• Notify your staff and schedule a meeting to review
information on crypto and coordinate the response effort, such as
designating someone to hang up signage.
• Work with public relations and communications personnel to
alert members, program participants and all other patrons. Use all
available channels: Send an e-blast, update any general information
Web sites with the outbreak announcement, post signage, and create
outbreak announcement handouts for patrons.
• Personally share updated information on the crypto incident
with patrons and managers of group-user programs. Explain what
you’re doing to make sure your facility is safe and remind
them that they can help by practicing healthy swimming
• Empower your employees. Lifeguards and other aquatics
staffers often have the most direct contact with the public, so
provide your team with “scripted” responses relative to
the specific crypto event. The staff should be trained to empathize
with patrons’ frustration and explain that all reasonable
measures are being taken to protect public health. They also must
be able to confidently convey that pool operators are actively
concerned about the threat of crypto and that as employees, they
feel safe swimming in this pool. Finally, enable your team to
direct patrons to a higher authority or other sources of
information if they find it necessary.
• Help those handling public relations and communications to
update patrons. Use all available message channels.
• Maintain a visible presence. Talk with parents and program
participants, and actively walk the pool deck during public swim
• Work with supervisors to develop and implement a strategy
for handling any repercussions, such as requests for refunds, and
inform your staff of all new policies or procedural changes.
Information provided by the CDC; Elise Knox, aquatic park manager, The Colony,
Texas; Dave Strueber, assistant director, West
Region Parks & Recreation Department, Dallas; and Ray
Dunham, principal, Raymond K. Dunham and Associates.