Water Safety Tips from Great Wolf Lodge

May is water safety month.

This is such an important issue for families because the second cause of death of children under the age of 14 is drowning.

Great Wolf Lodge invited Burb Mom to come out and get some tips about how to keep your summer water fun...fun.

I volunteered for the job because my three boys LOVE Great Wolf Lodge.   The Grapevine location is just a 10 minute drive from our home and we have taken 4 “staycations” since they opened.   It is GREAT to get away…yet be close enough in case you forgot something!

I met with Kevin Eldridge who is the Director of Aquatics for the Grapevine GWL.   He told me about the safety program at Great Wolf Lodge and the rigorous training that each lifeguard goes through.   They employ over 100 lifeguards at the Grapevine water park.   Each lifeguard is trained through Ellis & Associates which is a company that specializes in aquatic risk management.   They go through a 22 hour class, CPR, first aid, oxygen training, rescue techniques and scanning strategies.

Even though the water at Great Wolf Lodge is never deeper than 5 feet, there is a lot of water VOLUME.   Each lifeguard station throughout the waterpark has a scanning pattern – a pre-determined series of places for the guard to look that covers the entire area in their zone.   All the flotation tubes are clear so they can be scanned through and each area has a limit of how many of these tubes can be present for safety reasons.

The thing that surprised me the most was the follow-up training each lifeguard receives.   They have required inservices on EVERY shift.   The first 20 minutes of every shift is dedicated to something safety-related.   Each month every single lifeguard is tested randomly by a mannequin drop.

What is a mannequin drop?

GWL has several sizes of dummies that they sneak into different zones without the lifeguard expecting it.

Would you like to see a mannequin drop?


One of the other lifeguards changed into a plain swimming suit and grabbed the mannequin that looks like a toddler (seen above in first photo).   We headed over to a place where we could watch and not disturb the drill.

The lifeguard is walking along the yellow lines back and forth and scanning the water.

I didn’t even see the plain-suited   guard slip into the water with the mannequin and I was expecting it…he was THAT sneaky.

A split second later…

The lifeguard notices the mannequin in the water and rushes to rescue.

The plain-suited guard that dropped the mannequin then climbs out of the water and takes over the zone while the rescue happens.

The lifeguard continues the rescue and the plain-suited guard that dropped the mannequin continues to take over guarding the zone.

The plain-suited guard is now on the part of the zone that is out of the picture while the lifeguard continues the rescue of the mannequin.

It was so fast.

I was expecting it and it was fast.

Because this drill is very realistic and something that happens DAILY at Great Wolf Lodge, they never do it without having another person nearby to talk with guests about the drill.

There was a table of moms on the other side of the lazy river that witnessed the whole event.   Once the drill was over Kevin, the plain-suited guard and another lifeguard mingled around and talked with the guests.   They answered questions and reassured people that what they witnessed was a drill and no one was hurt.   I spoke with the moms afterward and like me, they were very impressed with the speed of the entire incident.

They do this with every guard every month because they believe the practice of rescue is essential to keep the lifeguards on their toes.

BUT one thing that was stressed by all the safety personnel at Great Wolf Lodge was…


That is the bottom line.

Places like GWL are great places for family play.   The closer you are interacting with your kids in the water, the better!   You know your kids and their ability to swim better than anyone.



Stay close and stay safe.

This post was sponsored by Great Wolf Lodge to spread the word about Water Safety Month and encourage families to make traditions this summer…safely.


  1. I am so glad you posted this. We have been to GWL twice, and both times I have been AMAZED at the number of life guards & the attentiveness they give to their jobs. At the town pools, for example, I find their lifeguards somewhat paying attention, but at GWL they are eagle-eyed and extremely focused on what they are doing.

    And the sheer number of lifeguards makes me feel even more safe. I am now even more impressed with their “dummy test” & agree totally that practicing will only make you better in case of a real emergency.

    Two BIG Mama thumbs up to GWL for their efforts in creating the safest environment possible!!

  2. I loved the drills they ran – we spotted it twice when we were visiting the Grapevine GWL! I think it’s fantastic….you don’t really see the same level of attention at other water parks! Plus I don’t have to stay on top of sunscreen if we stay indoors!

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