Hiring Lifeguards

Some camp administrators might believe that a competitive swimmer or a swimming instructor, one who also has lifeguard certification, may be a good candidate to hire for lifeguard duties. This is not necessarily true; in fact, the two skill sets may actually be in opposition.

A competitive swimmer or swimming instructor is typically comfortable in the water, and may not have the awareness necessary to spot potential dangers that might harm others less at ease in the pool. A skilled lifeguard keeps a close eye on the pool, constantly aware for potential signs of people in distress.

Water Dangers

Each year, approximately 6,000 people drown in pools and waterways in the United States. This is the second-leading cause of accidental death for people 15 to 44 years of age.

Further, an estimated 200 children drown, often in public pools, and several thousand others are treated in hospitals for submersion accidents, some of which can cause permanent brain damage and respiratory health problems.

In a majority of cases, these victims were only 10 to 30 feet from safety, which means a lifeguard who was aware of their distress potentially could have saved them.*

Who’s In Charge?

Camp pools are supposed to be fun and relaxed places, which can apply to both users of the pools as well as lifeguards. Sometimes administrators and staff, in this case, the lifeguards, merge the duties and responsibilities. However, administrators must always remember that ultimately, being in charge, they will bear the responsibility if a problem or accident occurs.

Once a lifeguard has been selected, camp administrators must continue to maintain a high-quality and safe aquatic system. They must be sure the lifeguards are well aware that their performance on the job is a primary concern of the camp.

To reinforce this policy, many administrators find it beneficial to do some “wandering around,” to visit the pool or water area frequently, to talk with the lifeguards, and observe any in-service training at the facility. This helps ensure quality control, and is essential to maintaining a safe, healthy, and fun pool this and every summer.

Katherine Pickett is a freelance writer and copy editor. She may be reached at (773) 525-3021.

*U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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  1. Are Your Lifeguards Adequately Trained?
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  3. Waterfront Safety And Preparation
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  5. PRM — Prevention, Recognition and Management

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