Lifeguarding: Job Skills That Can Save Lives

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Teen Jobs—Is your son or daughter interested in learning about life guarding and protecting those who are swimming or playing around pools, lakes, and other bodies of water this summer? Lifeguarding is a great job, with important skills that go beyond the summer job, including CPR/AED and other life saving skills. This job also develops leadership and people skills, and friendships that last beyond the season.

The first step in becoming a certified lifeguard is to train for the certification. Many recreational centers, local colleges, and private instructors offer classes to prepare swimmers for the certification exam. The American Red Cross and YMCAs also provide lifeguard training.

Lifeguard looking out at a busy beach

Becoming a Lifeguard

Key considerations for lifeguards include:

  • Preparedness - each day on the job can bring new situations and challenges.
  • Challenging - quick and safe decisions are often required.
  • Seriousness - an emergency can arise at any moment, and the lifeguard's response can make a different in life or death situations.

Becoming a lifeguard requires candidates to be alert and physically fit. Professional lifeguards must be:

  • Reliable and should show up for work on time, alert and ready to respond when needed.
  • Mature and prepared to obey rules and follow instructions.
  • Consistent; lifeguards should be courteous while enforcing rules.
  • Physically fit and healthy; a strong swimmer.
  • Well rested and on a nutritious diet, including plenty of water for proper hydration.
  • Knowledgeable about sun damage and protected by sun protection products.

The primary responsibilities of a lifeguard include:

  • The prevention of injuries by eliminating hazardous and risky behaviors.
  • Enforcing rules and making sure patrons are aware of them.
  • The ability to recognize and respond to all emergencies.
  • Administering CPR and first aid; using an AED if needed.

There is a decision making model applied to lifeguarding that aids lifeguards in knowing the best actions to take in most emergencies. This model is known as the FIND decision-making model.

  • F - figure out the problem
  • I -  identify possible solutions
  • N - name the pros and cons for each identified solution
  • D - decide which solution is best

Lifeguard instructions are to be obeyed at all times, and are consistent with the typical rules posted at aquatic facilities. Some patrons of recreational aquatic facilities claim the rules keep them from having any fun, especially the younger ones. However, the rules exist to ensure everyone does have fun without endangering themselves or other swimmers.

There are many things to consider around water recreation areas regarding safety. Before making the assumption that lifeguards are there to spoil your fun, think again. They undergo rigorous training and skill building certifications to save lives in emergencies. They take their jobs seriously so that swimmers can enjoy the water and know someone is there to aid them in distress.

Lifeguards are essential to water safety, and, as parents, we should all be thankful to have them around.

What type of summer jobs did you have when you were a teenager? Where will your teenager work this summer?

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Jane Warren enjoys outdoor water sports such as swimming, diving, and boating. She understands the importance of vigilance when others are in the water - safety is always first.  Her website provides reviews, and recommendations on water sports equipment like towable boat tubes, inflatable kayaks, garmin gps devices,  and safety related accessories. Based on her own experience with water safety, she also provides recommendations for water sport safety.

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