Tuesday, June 05, 2007

School the Lifeguards

Now that school's just about out, and many are heading to the local pools - be sure to not only keep an eye on your kids, but on the lifeguards - as a customer. Now's the time to quickly point out to pool management and staff weaknesses in the protections available to swimmers, as overseas employees and local teenagers begin what for many is their first Summer job, that carries an unfortunate level of responsibility with it. Most aren't trained at all, beyond instructions to "watch the front desk", "blow your whistle", "ignore your friends" and "can you swim?". (I know, I've been there, too, both as an untrained lifeguard, and a fully-trained one). Here's what I noticed on day 1, and pointed out to the supervisor -

1 - when clearing the pool, the guard should walk the perimeter and make sure everyone's out, before retiring to the pool-house gab-fest.
2 - always have the throwing ring or sling on your person (take a look at the Fairfax County Cub Run lifeguards - absolutely spectacular training)
3 - adjust your seats - just because your schedule is to sit in a particular seat, if all the kids are on the other side of the pool, walk around and be near them - this applies also to the "older" adult lap swimmers
4 - no cell phones or ipods on deck (it always amazes me to see this)
5 - can you really swim well? I actually saw a lifeguard swimming in the deep end, who could barely keep herself up, much less help someone else.
6 - be bold - you're in charge, not the raucus high-schoolers, don't just make them sit, make them leave if necessary
7 - police those swim diapers!
8 - keep food off the deck (it's just a total mess, plus attracts ants and bees)
9 - who's watching the 3-year old? Should be a parent always within arm's length, not over on the chair reading a book
10 - accept criticism, comment and feedback like a professional!

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