Ah, the properly trained lifeguard. The one you can put your trust in to keep your little ones safe in the water. This lifeguard exists, they really do but sometimes it's a matter of small details so here is how to tell if your lifeguard and the facility you are at is on top of their game.
Here are some basic best practices all lifeguards should be following.
1 - Don't lifeguard alone - Best practices state that there should always be two lifeguards on duty. If something happens and the guard needs to jump in you don't want the pool unguarded while your little ones swim, not even for a moment. Remember that 20 seconds it takes for a child to stop fighting? Lifeguards should know that too which brings me to number two.
2 - Follow the 20/10 rule - Lifeguards - who were properly trained - know that it takes only 20 seconds for a child to give up and so they must scan the pool every 10 seconds and be no farther than 20 seconds away from every person in the pool. As such, when guarding the pool a lifeguard must communicate with people while still watching the pool. Do not be surprised if they don't look at you. They are not being rude, they are being vigilant.
3 - Change spots and take breaks - This is SUPER important. Lifeguards scanning a pool can develop tunnel vision in as short as 15 minutes in the same spot. As such, lifeguards should be changing positions every 15 minutes and by law require at least a 15 minute break every hour.
4 - Come prepared - Lifeguards should show up with the following - A whistle, a first aid kit containing gloves and a one way CPR mask at a minimum, a floatation device, a water bottle and, a lifeguard should be dressed to jump in and move quickly. Do you know what's not fast? A lifeguard in jeans, especially not once they are full of water. If it's chilly out lifeguards can be dressed in easy to remove clothing. Jogging pants, a cardigan or jacket. No zippers, no buttons, no knotted strings...easy to take off or light enough to swim in.
5 - Put phones away - A lifeguard should NEVER have their phone or any other device in their pocket. Not only is this a distraction that is not taken seriously - people still drive and text - but the lifeguard may hesitate before jumping and take the time to remove the device for their pocket. There is no time to be wasted in a water safety emergency.
BONUS - Enforce rules - A good lifeguard will enforce the rules. That means that every person who moves any faster than a walk around the pool should be called out for it and the lifeguard should be ensuring that the person heard and is now following the rule. A good lifeguard will tell a child they have to take a time out of the pool if they have been warned several times. Though it may seem like a bit of a downer it is not only for the safety of the child who is not following the rules, it is also for the other people swimming.
Don't miss my next post on what drowning actually looks like. If you are not already on my mailing list please make sure you get on it so you don't miss any of the information you need to keep your children safe.