Understanding the IAAPA and CDC Safety Guidelines at Colorado Waterparks

If you’ve visited a waterpark or amusement park, you’ve likely seen safety signs scattered around the campus. If you’ve visited several parks, you’re likely aware that these signs almost always have the same information. The safety guidelines imposed at all amusement parks and attractions are provided by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, which releases updated amusement park best safety practices every year. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control has its own set of guidelines provided specifically to waterparks. If you need a refresher on this information or want to better understand the reasoning behind certain safety practices, the below guide is just what you need. The first half will cover IAAPA guidelines, whereas the second includes the three basic rules imposed by the CDC.



  • Children under 48″ and non-/weak swimmers should wear a Coast Guard approved life vest. This rule is designed to prevent accidental drowning. If you are unsure of availability and fit, it will help to bring your own. This should be practiced in both waterparks and natural sources of water.


  • Apply waterproof sunscreen throughout the day. Sun protection is essential at waterparks, where there is rarely much shade of accessible indoor space. Additionally, drink plenty of water and avoid beverages with sweeteners.


  • Children in diapers should use waterproof swim diapers. These diapers are designed the minimize potential leakage, which could contaminate large portions of the waterpark and potentially affecting hundreds of people.


  • Carefully read all water park attraction signs. You may think you understand how a slide works, but the park knows its attractions better than you do. Always defer to instructions provided by signs and obey all rules.


  • Follow lifeguard instructions and signal them if you see someone in trouble. Lifeguards are vitally important to the safety of a waterpark. To minimize potential for harm, use the buddy system—especially with children–to ensure nobody is left alone.



  • Do not swim if you have diarrhea. This is one of the easiest ways to accidentally contaminate a waterpark pool. Though it is designed to target children in diapers, all adults should understand how their personal health can potentially impact hundreds of other swimmers.


  • Do not swallow pool water. Do your best to avoid getting water in your mouth. Pool water is often heavily treated to remove bacteria and germs. When you swallow the fluid, you are swallowing either chemicals or dangerous bacteria.


  • Practice good hygiene and shower before swimming. This one is very important, but few people actually shower before swimming in public pools. This step is essential, as it quickly rids your body of harmful bacteria which could enter the public space. Additionally, wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing diapers.


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