NOTE: This article was originally published March 13th, 2020, last updated July 14th, 2020.
While we want to make sure this advice is current, it is not definitive. We want to recognize the limitations of advice during a pandemic where information is updated by experts daily and strongly urge you to check resources like the CDC and WHO for the most up-to-date information about safety procedures and best practices.
We’ve compiled some critical information and tips for float centers to keep in mind during the Coronavirus outbreak:
- Coronavirus is not water-borne. Standard filtration and disinfection in your float solution should be sufficient.
- Coronavirus seems to be primarily spread through droplets in the air. Infected people who present symptoms can spread these through coughing and sneezing, but asymptomatic people can spread the virus great distances just through talking. It’s not currently known how long the virus stays in the air, but enclosed and poorly ventilated spaces have an increased risk of transmission. Employees should wait at least 20 minutes before entering float rooms vacated by customers.
- Surfaces don’t seem to be the primary mode of transmission, but are still a risk factor. Increase disinfection of the interior and exterior of the tank, especially where customers are likely to touch.
Hard Surface Disinfection
- (Re)Familiarize yourself with hard surface disinfection and kill times.
- Use EPA recommended and registered disinfectants on all hard surfaces.
- Stress to your staff the importance of properly disinfecting all items and surfaces that floaters are likely to touch, both in the rooms and out.
- Frequently disinfect chairs, doorknobs, check-in counters, and all solid surfaces where someone might place their hand.
- Consider storing objects that floaters typically touch that aren’t easy to disinfect (float journals, books, toys, etc.).Staff and Customers
Staff and Customers
- All staff should wear masks at all times. All customers should wear masks anytime they’re not alone in the float room. Even cloth masks can help reduce the spread of transmission significantly.
- Brief your staff on what we know, and make sure they feel comfortable answering any customer questions.
- Make sure your staff is washing their hands diligently and not touching their faces.
- Have everyone maintain at least a 6-foot distance from others.
- Make sure staff take sick leave and stay home if they think they’re feeling ill.
- Let customers know that they won’t be charged for canceling floats, even last minute, if they’re not feeling well. Take steps to prevent customers who have symptoms, especially a cough or fever, into your center.
- Put a page on your website informing your customers of your increased cleaning and health policies, and link to it from your scheduling page and emails.
With all of this said, we aren’t microbiologists and information about the pandemic is changing daily. So, back in March we reached out to Dr. Roy Vore for comment.
If you’re not familiar with him, Dr. Vore is a microbiologist and expert on water sanitation; he’s one of the leading experts on outbreaks in shared water facilities (pools, hot tubs, etc), and fortunately for our industry, he’s taken a particular interest in float tanks.
Dr. Vore has had been discussing this issue with pools and spas, so making a statement for float centers wasn’t too far out of his way.
The first thing we learned from talking to Dr. Vore was that the actual name for this virus is SARS-CoV-2. It’s similar to the flu both in how it spreads and what it’s susceptible to. This is what he had to say (see if you can avoid hearing it in his voice):
“This is an enveloped virus. The concentration of salt used will provide a reasonable inactivation, but is not likely to be complete. But this virus is both spread by contact and inhalation of airborne droplets; it is not water-borne. As such, the water is not the medium of transmission.”
It’s been known for years that high concentrations of magnesium sulfate in a water solution can actually stop some viruses and bacteria from spreading that would otherwise thrive in water. As we know, this isn’t sufficient disinfectant for all pathogens, but it does impact our risk factors. Dr. Vore actually did a big talk about this at the 2018 Float Conference.
The nature of our business also means we just don’t have large groups of people interacting with each other. This doesn’t mean we’re off the hook, though.
This virus has a long incubation period, which means that it can last longer on surfaces. So the real danger of this epidemic for a float center is all the stuff that your customers interact with. As Dr. Vore puts it:
“All float centers should focus on disinfection of hard surfaces including chairs, doorknobs, check-in counters, and all solid surfaces where someone might place their hand.”
Back at the beginning of March, Art of the Float recently released an interview with Jason MacDonald, a health regulator in Alberta, Canada. It’s a good listen, although obviously our understanding of the pandemic has shifted and grown since then.
At the very least, hopefully the fact that we’re not a high-risk industry can be something float centers can take some comfort in and emphasize to the public. Be patient, be mindful, and adjust your plans to the environment as new information comes out and the situation develops. And don’t forget to take tank time for yourself to float away some stress.
Float Success Story – Float Los Alamos
At the Float Conference every year we hear inspirational stories from float center owners who have carved a piece of the industry out in their salty image. Everyone defines "success" in their own way, and we thought it would be cool to share what that meant to some of...
The Relationship Between the MAHC and Float Tanks
The MAHC stands for the Model Aquatic Health Code. This is a document put out by the Centers for Disease Control that is a set of guidelines for recreational water sanitation and operations.
The MAHC is what is called a “model code,” which means it is not a regulation in and of itself. Instead, the CDC puts out the MAHC as a document which they consider to be a really nice set of code language for recreational water facilities (mostly pools and spas). The MAHC includes everything from the process of getting permits…
A New Year, a New Research List
When we first released the floatation research list back in 2011, it was as close to a comprehensive list as we could create. It was put together in an effort to illustrate that sensory isolation was a thoroughly studied practice and there was scientific evidence for the health claims we were making.
Many float centers adopted this list for their own uses and put it on their sites, spreading the information and making it more available.
In this post, you’ll learn about the updates made to our float research list.
Should I Have One or Multiple Styles of Float Tank?
If you had every model and type of float tank you’d be running the Burj Khalifa of float centers, with an estimated 38 unique float tanks, which include pods, custom open pools, cabins, vertical tanks, and inflatable or portable float devices currently on the market (not even counting old models).
This is all to say that there are a ton of options out there when considering tanks for your center.
Whether you’re opening a two-tank center, or a bajillion-tank center, do you want all the same model, or will you have some variety?
Why ROI Calculators Suck! (or at least why you should use caution)
“What is an ROI calculator?” I hear you asking. “ROI” simply stands for “Return on Investment”. An “ROI Calculator” is just a tool that outlines the cost of something and generates what your anticipated profit will be over a certain length of time. Usually annually.
We should make a distinction between a simple ROI calculator (i.e. a widget built into a website with limited inputs), and a financial plan (complete with P&L, cashflow, and balance sheets). Both are going to try and do the same thing, but one is going to be far more detailed and accurate.
Roughly what we’re going to be talking about is a return on investment for your whole business, but return on investment can (and should) be used for lots of different aspects to your business to help you determine how best to spend your company’s money. Usually, though, that’s going to require a lot of detail that a simple widget can’t provide.
How to compete on price without slashing prices
Let’s say you’re a float tank center and more centers are starting to show up in your town…
Or, maybe you are that other center starting up a town that already has float tanks…
As new centers enter the market, the typical response is to run promotions on daily deal sites, promote large specials, and/or run Facebook Ads selling floats for much less than the usual offerings.
The best case scenario is this price slashing behavior subsides shortly after the neighboring center opens.
But what if it doesn’t? What if an existing competitor decides their new price is even lower?
How do you compete with a price slashing neighbor without competing on price?
Learn a few ways to make price a non issue with your customers…
Float On’s Halloween Spooktacular!
‘Twas briny, and the epsom groves fluttered with salt-bats, a lurking fog floating atop the murky bog. From the dark maw of silence came a guttural groan, an eerie utterance akin to those of monsters. From the depths of darkness, that groan turned into what mortals...
Timeline for Opening Up a Float Center
Opening up a float center is a lot like climbing a mountain. Even if you can see the peak, it’s a lot further away than you think, and when you finally get there, the journey and the destination usually end up being different than previously assumed.
In this post we’ll lay out a general process and timeline of what you may encounter on your path, from initial idea to actually operating a center.
Can you have volunteers at your center?
So you’re thinking about using volunteers in your float center?
Before we clarify what a “volunteer” actually means, we’ll first explore why a float center might be considering them in the first place. While it can be a way to provide floats to people who are otherwise unable to pay, the impulse to bring in volunteers can also stem from a desire to get some sort of free labor (later in this post we’ll dive into why you can’t actually do this, but it’s important to recognize that the instinct is understandable, especially when you have someone lined up and willing to work for free).
In addition to a desired boost in overall productivity, it’s also a way to invite more people into your center to experience what you do. Some customers actually want to help out and see what happens behind the scenes at a center.
Floating and Athletics, a Strong Relationship
One of the beautiful things about the float tank is that it serves to rejuvenate the whole person. — the body, mind, heart.
Broadly speaking, it’s a tool for homeostasis, an ideal environment that supports balance, health, and growth. This piece will look specifically at floating and athletics. For anyone who defines themselves as an athlete, or as a general pursuant of athletic endeavors, the float tank can be a powerful asset.
In this post, I’ll discuss individual athletes who float and how to look at this from a marketing perspective. I’ll also discuss past and present research, and share some thoughts on how the relationship between the athletic and floating communities might continue to unfold.