Minimum Lifeguard Uniform and Equipment Requirements

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Lifeguard uniform requirements are basically the same throughout the world, men’s lifeguard board shorts, women’s lifeguard swimsuits and t-shirts printed with the words Lifeguard or guard. Board short lengths are designated by each lifeguard agency. Long board shorts can hinder leg movement and interfere with rescues. Lifeguard apparel should always be made from rash free material, lifeguard board shorts should have oversized closure pockets with a locking loop and drain holes that allow the water to get out instead of weigh you down. Men’s lifeguard boardshorts should not drag or stick to your legs when wet. Women’s lifeguard swimsuits must stay up on the shoulders and their bottoms should stay on through different size surf. Neither should fade from the sun or pool chemicals.

Easily Identifiable

Clearly distinguishable and visible lifeguard uniforms are a must. Lifeguard uniform conformity, stops confusion and can help save lives. When agencies fail to require matching uniforms and let the lifeguard choose what to wear, then lifeguard visibility and identification becomes almost impossible especially when a high volume of people are present. Large facilities can have hundreds of patrons in the water at the same time. This means teams of lifeguards, working together must be able to spot their partners quickly in and out of the water. Lifeguard uniforms tie the agencies together and instill respect for the guards.


Lifeguard uniform colors in the past have consisted of mostly red or navy with white labeling. Today agencies stick with traditional colors and others pick out uniform colors that match the theme of their park or their particular branding.

Beaches and water parks that don’t have identical lifeguard uniforms have been sued when patrons were unable to find a guard when needed.

 Lifeguard Equipment Requirements

Rescue Cans should be the best in the industry; beware of imitations! The Marine Rescue Patrol Can was developed by L.A. County Chief Lifeguard Bob Burnside over 30 years ago.  Marine Rescue Patrol Cans are made with the thickest wall construction on the market and have a heavy nylon shoulder rescue strap attached to a nylon line.

The lifeguard rescue can or sometimes called rescue tube is the most used piece of rescue equipment in the world. It is used by lifeguards at most pools, waterparks, oceans, lakes and rivers. Well made rescue tubes are made from Ensolite foam with heavy vinyl covering. Rescue tubes made with tapered ends provide comfort and help to reduce drag. Rescue tubes can support both the victim and rescuers weight during the rescue. They are the preferred choice of the American Red Cross and are used by lifeguard training agencies around the world.

Lifeguard rescue fins help with long distance rescues or battling strong rip currents. Lifeguard rescue fins are designed to propel you through the water with minimal effort.

Lifeguard rescue fins like Da Fins are used for jetty rescues and rock hopping, due to their smaller size. All lifeguard fins must float so that they will wash into shore if lost in the water.

Lifeguard rescue fin the Duck feet fins are also highly acclaimed and are the #1 choice by Navy.

Lifeguard backboards are used by lifeguards to secure and transport physically injured victims. A popular choice by agencies is the Watermen Pediatric Spineboard. The polyethylene shell of this spineboard is heavy duty and x-ray translucent, so moving the injured victim from board to bed for x-rays is not necessary.

 Sun Protection

Though not required lifeguards should use sun protection. Solrx a great sunscreen that stays on all day and will not run into your eyes.

Lifeguard rashguards provide an extra layer of SPF 50 protection from the sun and also provides warmth.

Skin cancer of the ears is becoming a growing dilemma. Broad brimmed hats like the La Palapa Hat a straw hat, works great and was originated in the 1960’s by California beach lifeguards. The wide rim covers and protects the ears.

Tonga hats are also a wide brimmed hat that is the most popular hat used by lifeguard agencies in California.

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