Lifeguards monitor recreational areas such as pools, lakes, and beaches to provide assistance and protection to visitors. This can mean offering safety instruction, saving drowning victims, providing first aid, enforcing rules, or simply giving directions. As they are usually the first responders, lifeguards should have a good amount of medical training such as CPR.
Lifeguards need to be physically fit, strong, experienced swimmers. They often have to face difficult swimming environments such as cold temperatures, swift currents, and large waves. They must be able to respond quickly to any type of emergency, which may also involve specialized knowledge depending upon the area where they work. For example, lifeguards in coastal areas of high surfing or boating activity may have to be aware of rip tides, shark sightings, and disabled boats.
For the best view of the area, to survey the waters and quickly observe any accidents, lifeguards often sit up high in watchtowers or tall chairs and look through binoculars. They will also have rescue equipment available, such as for helping victims to stay afloat. Some lifeguards drive boats to patrol the shoreline or drive Jeeps along the beach.
Finally, a lifeguard will use an assortment of flags, whistles, megaphones, and other communication equipment to keep swimmers and boaters aware of potential dangers.
Being a lifeguard is a great summer job for any teenager. You can call your local pools and ask if they are hiring. Other places you might work are camps, water parks, or even the beach. If there is a particular place you would like to lifeguard such as the community pool, call them first to see if they have any training opportunities or requirements. Certification is almost always required.
Some lifeguard training classes are offered through the YMCA or the local American Red Cross chapter. You must be at least 15 years old to take the American Red Cross Lifeguard Training class, although there is also a GuardStart class for kids ages 11 to 14. Call your local American Red Cross office to find out about classes. For some beach lifeguard jobs, such as those in Los Angeles and San Diego County, you are required to try out to enroll in their training academies.
To pass the physical portion of the lifeguard test, you will have to perform CPR on a dummy, retrieve bricks form the bottom of a pool, and “rescue” a real person who will pretend to need help. You will also have to pass a written test. Being a lifeguard is fun, but it’s a job that must be taken very seriously because someone’s life may depend on you!