Lifeguard Responsibilities

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With the start of summer, both day and resident camps are getting into full swing. It is once again time to review aquatic safety issues with your staff. These safety rules should be employed at all locations:

  1. Each lifeguard should have a rescue tube (buoy) with them at all times.
  2. If the swimming facility has deep water, i.e., more than 5 feet in depth, a rope and float line should cross the pool on the shallow side of the change in slope between the shallow and deep portions of the pool. If there is a natural or constant slope, it should be found where the water becomes 5 deep. The distinction of separate areas should exist in both pools and open water areas.
  3. If deep water (over 5 feet) exists, the lifeguards should perform deep water testing of all swimmers, with no exceptions. The tests should be conducted in deep water with the swimmer demonstrating at least 50 feet of acceptable crawl stroke followed immediately by 60 seconds of treading water. Those who are qualified for deep water activity should be so designated by the use of wristbands, swimming caps, marking of the shoulder with waterproof marker, or some other form of identification.
  4. Each lifeguard station or position should have a specific area or zone of responsibility. In a pool or open-water area with multiple zones, it is critical that every part of every zone, and especially the seams between the zones, be both highly visible and readily accessible to the lifeguards.
    • A chart depicting each lifeguard’s zone should be posted where the lifeguards can regularly review their area of responsibility.
    • A lifeguard should be able to completely and thoroughly scan their entire area of responsibility every 10 seconds – eye movement should be maintained to provide that coverage frequency.
    • Lifeguards should be diligent to pay close attention to their duties; they should not be conversing with others, reading, or performing other tasks.
    • Lifeguards should be situated so that no position in the pool is more than 20 seconds away from the lifeguard that is overseeing it.
    • Lifeguard duty cycles should be designed to ensure alert and attentive personnel, and shift changes should not cause a disturbance in the quality of protection offered to the swimmers.
  5. Lifeguard staffing should increase if the water becomes turbulent because of waves, wind, or current; i.e., the zones should decrease in size.
  6. If water turbulence becomes dangerous or distorts vision, or if visibility is otherwise diminished, swimming should be ceased until the conditions return to normal.

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.

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