Hiring Lifeguards

As the warm weather approaches, camp administrators are probably considering hiring lifeguards for summer pool and aquatic activities.

Take hiring lifeguards seriously. © Gene Chutka / iStockPhoto.com

Hiring would be much easier if all lifeguards were required to have the same skills verified by the same certification, ensuring they were properly trained in the latest rescue techniques and procedures, as well as on the equipment necessary to perform such duties.

However, this is not the case.

A variety of lifeguard certification programs exist in North America and throughout the world. Although the training aspects of these programs have many similarities, the significant differences might lead to hiring the wrong lifeguard to meet a camp’s specific needs.

In a worst-case scenario, this may lead to a preventable injury or death–and likely litigation.

Yet, many of these issues can be avoided, addressed, or rectified with a proper understanding of a lifeguard’s duties, basic hiring and management principles on the part of camp administrators, and some effective supervisory skills.

Consider the following:

The Duties

Before hiring, an official must be clear as to what a lifeguard is supposed to do. A lifeguard, whether at a camp location, a swimming pool, a river, an ocean, or other waterway, is a person in charge of the safety of everyone in or near the water area.

The lifeguard’s job may include interacting with visitors; enforcing pool regulations, local laws, and ordinances; protecting the environment; saving drowning victims; and providing first aid.

Necessary Skills

Lifeguards are often categorized as “first responders,” which means a crucial part of their training must include emergency medical services (EMS). This includes performing CPR when necessary, as well as tending to wounds, burns, fractures, head injuries, and other medical crises.

Depending on the water area, he or she may be responsible for handling other emergencies, such as boat fires or disabled boats.


For lifeguards to properly perform their duties, camp administrators should provide appropriate rescue equipment: a rescue float or craft for larger water areas, buoys made of hard plastic, binoculars, swim fins, telephone and radio communication devices, and first-aid equipment.

The lifeguard must know how to use this equipment, and how to maintain and repair it.

A well-trained lifeguard can help keep your campers safe. © jabejon / iStockPhoto.com

Most lifeguards also are expected to complete daily logs of their work activities. These forms should be provided.


Although certification programs may vary, a prospective lifeguard must be certified by a respected, nationally recognized certification organization. Part of the hiring process also requires screening and testing to ensure the applicant has the necessary skills and training for the camp’s specific needs.

Finding what other skills the applicant actually has beyond certification is extremely helpful.

Swimmers Vs. Lifeguards

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  2. Are Your Lifeguards Adequately Trained?
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  4. Waterfront Safety And Preparation
  5. Grade “A” Lifeguard
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