So, You Want to Be a Lifeguard? Understanding Lifeguard Duties

beach lifeguards, pool lifeguards, lifeguard equipment, lifeguard gear, watermen boarshorts, watermen suitsMillions of visitors and locals hit the beaches, lakes, rivers and pools each year. But sometimes we need a little help, and there are lifeguards in place to do just that. No matter what kind of lifeguard you are, your one number task is not rescuing people, instead your main duty is to prevent and protect the public from getting into a dangerous situation in the first place. As a lifeguard, you are constantly looking for potential danger, and your job is to warn people before that danger becomes an issue.

Surveillance, Emergency Care, Maintenance Duties

Lifeguards are responsible for keeping swimmers’ safe, and must be able to intervene in dangerous situations. During lifeguard training, lifeguards learn to identify emergency situations quickly.

Lifeguards caution people against using unsafe areas, or using illegal conduct, such as drinking or fighting. That means as a lifeguard you must be able to remain calm in all situations, if you panic or show fear the victim or the trouble maker will know it.

Beach Lifeguards

Beach lifeguards will warn people about rip currents, remind parents that waves will knock their children down, and to keep your loved ones within view. Beach lifeguards must be proficient in using two-way radios for contact, and coordinate activities between the different emergency rescue units. Beach lifeguards also have to maintain daily information on weather and beach conditions.

Beach lifeguards are constantly scanning the water in a similar pattern as a pool lifeguard, but they have a much larger surface to cover, and can rarely see below the water, so it is important to keep the beach lifeguard vigilant. Most facilities frequently rotate beach lifeguards from station to station to help them stay fresh and alert, and to offer breaks from surveillance responsibilities. Beach lifeguards, as well as pool lifeguards must be distraction-free, that means no cell phones and other items that take their eyes off the water.

Pool Lifeguards

Pool lifeguards keep patrons’ safe around and in the pool, from reminding people to walk, so they avoid slip and fall injuries, to stopping rough housing. They also teach swim lessons, and encourage things like the buddy system to keep you safe. Beach lifeguards supervise the use of water slides, and diving boards (if applicable), as well as pool maintenance, such as checking the swimming pools chlorine and pH levels.

Pool lifeguards scan the water, just like beach lifeguards do, looking for swimmers in trouble. They are trained to make a scanning pattern, by sweeping their eyes side to side or up and down looking at sections of the zone they are responsible for. This scanning method will happen every 10 seconds. It is suggested that they change their posture, position, and pattern every five minutes to keep them aware.

Both Beach and Pool Lifeguards

  • Provide emergency care and treatment such as CPR, and or use equipment like using spine boards and rescue tubes, as required until the arrival of EMTs. This year in particular beach lifeguards have had to administer first aid for stingray stings, using portable stingray kits.
  • Both lifeguard types perform various maintenance duties, as directed, to maintain a clean and safe facility.
  • Both lifeguard types should have a professional attitude and appearance at all times. This means proper lifeguard apparel, from lifeguard boardshorts for men, to lifeguard swimsuits for women.
  • Both lifeguard types will prepare daily activity reports.

Now that you understand some of the day to day duties of a lifeguard, our next posts will cover what it takes to get through lifeguard training, followed by lifeguard certification and testing, and ending with what to expect at lifeguard tryouts. Once this series is complete, you will have all the information you need to make an advised decision on whether or not becoming a lifeguard is right for you.