“Grade A” Lifeguard

“Lifeguards need to have a pair of good sunglasses and a hat to keep the sun out of their eyes,” says Amblo. “A good pair of sunglasses will take the glare off of the water, allowing the lifeguard to see what is in the water more clearly.”

Lifeguards also need to apply sunscreen every 30 minutes. Some facilities also provide an umbrella, which not only provides sun protection but makes it easier to clearly see the water.

Lifeguards also should have the same uniform to make them easily identifiable to patrons. Plus, each lifeguard should be outfitted with a rescue tube, a floatation device used to secure the drowning person and that allows the rescuer to haul the person to safety.

Whistles are a vital tool for lifeguards. Plastic whistles are the best option because metal whistles tend to chip or break teeth.

All pools should be outfitted with a reach-in device such as a hook, a throw-in device such as a buoy and a spine board with a head immobilizer. Facilities also are realizing the benefit of having an AED on site, which is regulated through the jurisdiction of the local medical director.

In the case of open water, a ring buoy and a throw bag (a coiled rope that sits inside a bag for deployment) typically are used. The bag is heavy enough so the thrower can gain enough momentum to get it to the person in the water.

Open-water lifeguards typically use a hard-plastic rescue can, shaped like a torpedo with a tow line attached. This design allows the rescuer to maintain seven feet of toe line to keep a safe distance from the victim. The hard-plastic rescue tube has a handle for the victim to hold onto to maintain buoyancy. “Use anything orange or red because each has high visibility,” says Keifer. “All ropes should be made from polypropylene.”

Future Of Lifeguarding

Today, kids are often involved in other sports, and learn-to-swim programs aren’t as utilized as in the past. There isn’t the connection between learning to swim, competitive swimming and lifeguarding.

“The greatest problem facing the aquatic community isn’t the compliance with equipment; it is having an adequate number of guards for the facility,” says Bob Lenseth, vice president of operations with Gulbenkian Swim. “If you look at sports today, there are feeder programs that start kids at an early age in a sport.”

“Many areas throughout the country are faced with shortages. Pools can do a lot to improve that by encouraging kids to participate in swimming programs,” says Lenseth. “Then, when the kids are 16, get them into a lifeguarding class to become first-year guards.”

Tammy York is president of LandShark Communications LLC in Greater Cincinnati. She left her state public relations position to pursue her passion for outdoor recreation and marketing. Her upcoming book, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Cincinnati, is due out in spring 2009. You may reach her at landsharkpr@yahoo.com

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  1. Grade “A” Lifeguard
  2. Hey, Lifeguard, Look At Me!
  3. Think Ahead
  4. A Lifeguard’s Purpose
  5. Are Your Lifeguards Adequately Trained?

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