How to Spot Drowning
How to Spot Drowning
Taking a trip to the pool or the beach is a favorite summertime way to help beat the heat. But when having fun around the water, it is always important to take precautions. One of the main fears is someone will drown.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent drowning, to be able to recognize the signs of drowning, and to know what to do if someone begins to drown. Making sure you're equipped with the appropriate skills and equipment is crucial while swimming. It could save someone's life.
The Signs of Drowning
In TV shows or movies, it is almost impossible to miss that someone is drowning. Well, most of that is an exaggeration. It can actually be difficult to recognize when someone is drowning. If you spend a lot of time in or around the water, especially if you have younger children, you need to be able to recognize the signs of a distressed swimmer.
It is first important to note the motions of a distressed swimmer. Unlike in the movies, someone drowning won't usually have the ability to yell for help. Their head will be mostly submerged. Also, their arms won't be flailing about in an alarming manner. Usually, someone drowning will be making relatively normal swimming motions to try to get themselves back to the surface. You really have to be paying attention to someone, because their motions won't be an attention grabber.
For an older child or adult, they will typically be in a vertical position. Their head will probably be slightly sticking up out of the water and tilted back a little bit. Most people in this age category will have their arms out to the side or in front of them trying to push themselves back to the surface.
Infants and toddlers' heads are much heavier compared to the rest of their bodies. They won't have the strength to use their arms to move themselves around, so most distressed children will be lying facedown on the water. However, they could also be completely submerged or just have their mouth and nose underwater. A younger child that is drowning will be more still than an adult because they won't have the ability to fight to get above the surface.
For children, it only takes about 20 seconds for them to fall completely underwater. For adolescents, it takes about 60 seconds. In both cases, you have a very minimal amount of time to notice and help someone in distress before they fall under.
While some believe that children are the main victims of drowning, there is a chance anyone could become distressed and drown, even a professional swimmer. If you are at the beach or the pool, the best way to be able to quickly notice someone drowning is to watch VERY closely to everyone's actions while swimming.
What Do I Do If Someone Is Drowning?
There are several steps you need to follow to be able to truly identify when someone is drowning and get them to help they need.
- Call out to them. Like we've previously mentioned, someone drowning probably won't have the ability to talk. If you call out to them and they don't or can't respond, this is a pretty good sign they're in trouble.
- Have someone nearby call 911. No matter the situation, you should call 911. Even if it looks like the person will save themselves or someone can grab them quickly, you'll want an ambulance to come check out the patient. And if anything seems abnormal or if a hospital is truly needed, first responders will already be there to help.
- Resist the urge to jump in. Everyone's inclination is going to be to jump in and try to save the drowning swimmer. However, this action can actually cause more problems than it solves. A drowning swimmer's first instinct is to grab onto or pull on the person trying to save them, which means the person trying to help could also end up drowning.
- Try reaching for the person while you're still on land. If you're at the pool, try lying down on the surface around the pool and reaching your hand out to help the swimmer. If they're too far out to reach that way, try using the steps or ladder to get you closer. Whatever you do, make sure you have a very tight grip on someone so the distressed swimmer doesn't pull you in and possibly cause issues for you.
- Flotation device. If you're still unable to reach the distressed swimmer, try throwing them a flotation device. This device could be a pool float, life jacket or even a sealed cooler. Anything that will float that the swimmer can grab onto can help them out.
- Swim the flotation device to a distressed swimmer if needed. If you're in a larger pool or at the beach where you can't simply throw the device at the swimmer, you can quickly swim it out to them to grab onto. Just be extremely cautious if you have to do this. Don't make direct contact with the swimmer. If you aren't careful, you could both end up in distress.
- If the person is unconscious, get a flotation device around them. If a distressed swimmer has already fallen unconscious, get a flotation device around them to lift them out of the water. However, if the person has fallen unconscious and fallen below the surface, it could be difficult for you to swim down and grab them. At this point, it is highly recommended that you wait for a professional.
- Once the person has been saved (if no first responders have arrived yet), someone who knows CPR should preform it now if needed. If it is determined that the swimmer needs CPR, now would be the time for someone who knows the proper technique to perform that until a first responder can get there.
Everyone wants to help however they can, so it is important that you know what you need to do to truly help someone who is drowning — without endangering yourself.
Get the Lifeguard Equipment You Need to Help Prevent Drowning
To prevent drowning, you need to be prepared. You need to know what to do if someone is drowning. You should have all the necessary supplies and equipment to help a distressed swimmer until a first responder can get there.
The Lifeguard Store can provide you with the necessary rescue and training equipment to make sure you're prepared for any accidents while swimming. If you have a team of lifeguards that you need matching apparel and equipment for, you can create a custom store on our website!
You can shop all of our apparel and equipment online, but if you need any help or have questions or concerns, you can contact us via our website or give us a call at (800) 846-7052. Let us supply you with everything you need to save a life!!
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What Is the Lifeguard Brick Test and How to Prepare
Becoming a lifeguard is an exciting and gratifying job for water lovers and avid swimmers. Working as a lifeguard gives you the chance to sit out in the sun and hang out by the water all day. It also allows you to help people by either acting as an instructor and teaching them how to swim or by saving them in an emergency.
Every lifeguard shows up to their shift hoping to avoid water emergencies, but because accidents are always a possibility, you have to be ready in case they do occur. As a lifeguard, you are responsible for doing everything you can to assist swimmers who may need your help, so making sure you are ready to perform these duties is essential in becoming a lifeguard.
What Is the Lifeguard Brick Test?
The lifeguard brick test is required to become certified and ensure that you are ready to take on the lifeguard role. A dive brick or lifeguard training brick, often used for strength and rescue training, is a ten-pound steel mass covered with hard rubber designed for use in the pool without harming pool sides or bottoms.
Lifeguard training requires you to be able to retrieve and swim with this weight. More specifically, to successfully complete the lifeguard brick test, you must begin out of the water at one end of the pool. You must swim the entire length of the pool, pick up the brick from the bottom of the pool and swim back to your starting position. As you swim back with the brick, you must have two hands on the brick and keep the brick on the surface of the water.
In this scenario, the diving brick represents a drowning victim at the bottom of a pool, and this exercise proves that you can successfully save them.
How to Prepare for the Lifeguard Brick Test
With proper practice, training and the drive to pass your certification, you will be ready for this test in no time. The simplest way to prepare for the test is to break it down into sections and practice each part individually before attempting the test in its entirety. The test best breaks down into four steps:
1. Locate the Brick
Start preparing for the brick test by practicing the 20-yard swim without goggles. Although this may already be easy for you, do not skip practicing this step. Try out different techniques and strokes and see which one gets you closest to the brick the fastest and allows you to see the brick easily and clearly.
The more efficient you are in this beginning step, the more prepared you are to take on the rest of the test. Also, note that efficiency does not necessarily mean the quickest. Even though it is important to make the rescue in a timely manner, as it is a timed test, make sure you do not use all your strength for the swimming portion of the test because you will need more energy later when you retrieve the brick.
2. Retrieve the Brick
The second step to prepare for is diving and getting the brick. The test requires you to do a surface dive, meaning that you need to dive from in the water. You can execute your surface dive headfirst in a tuck or pike position or feet first. Try each of these techniques and figure out which works best for you. Practice where you need to position yourself to keep the brick in front of you, allowing you to reach it without having to do much searching after you initially locate it.
3. Swim the Brick Back to the Start
After you retrieve the brick, your next focus is how you plan to bring it back to your starting position. This step may be the most important part of the test because you need to remember to keep two hands on the brick and make sure you keep it above the water. Figure out the best kick for you to use that will get you to the edge of the pool quickly.
Another thing to consider is where to hold the brick. Some people find it easiest to rest it up the upper part of your chest, while others move it a little lower, still keeping it afloat.
4. Exit the Water Without Using the Ladder
Most of the time, the most convenient way to get out of the pool is by using the steps or ladder. The test, however, requires you to get out of the water without assistance. Some people find it easiest to get out backward, and others like to face the wall and push themselves up, bringing their feet onto the side of the pool. Decide which option is easiest for you and do that during the test.
Doing each of these steps individually is crucial because it will help give you the confidence you need to complete the test successfully. Once you know that you can do each step, practice them together and time yourself. Figure out what steps you need to complete the fastest and where you need to exert most of your energy. Experiment with different combinations of speed and energy exertion until you find the most effective one for you.
Tips for Surviving the Lifeguard Brick Test
Even after breaking the test down into various steps and practicing them individually, it still may be difficult for you to complete the lifeguard brick test in the allotted time. Here are a few tips on how to prepare for and complete the lifeguard brick test.
1. Take Your Time
Even though it is a timed test and in a real-life situation you would want to get to the victim as soon as possible, you need to make sure you save enough energy for when you will need it the most later in the test.
2. Keep the Brick in Front
When you flip over to dive to the bottom of the pool, you want the brick to be directly under you where you can reach it. The best way to ensure that you dive with the brick positioned there is by keeping it slightly in front of you so that you will land right on it after the dive.
3. Get to the Surface Quickly
Whether you decide to surface dive headfirst to reach the bottom of the pool or go feet first, then squat to grab the brick, both techniques allow you to put your feet to the ground and push up toward the surface of the water. Propel yourself up by doing this, then flutter kick until you break through the water’s surface.
4. Swim on Your Back
Many people find the test more difficult when swimming on their stomach or side while keeping the brick above water. Floating on your back, holding the brick to your chest and kicking, is a good strategy because it uses your body’s natural buoyancy to make swimming the brick back easier. Many swimmers recommend doing the kick used in the breaststroke, also known as the frog kick, because it's more powerful.
5. Avoid Submerging the Brick
As long as you get the brick back to the side of the pool without completely submerging it, you can keep it on the surface of the water. Keep this in mind because removing the brick entirely from the water takes a lot more energy and is much more difficult.
6. Use Both Hands for Stability
When you reach the side of the pool, stable yourself with one hand and use your dominant or stronger hand to place the brick on the side. Once you finish this, all you have to do is get out of the pool and complete the test.
Get the Lifeguard Training Equipment You Need From The Lifeguard Store
If you are ready to jump into action and help enforce water safety, get all the lifeguard training equipment you will need from The Lifeguard Store today. Find everything you need to prepare for the brick test, your certification and your first day on the job as a lifeguard.
At The Lifeguard Store, we take pride in having an abundant selection of new styles and colors at the best price. With low flat rates and free and speedy shipping, we want to ensure our customer's satisfaction. So, if you are looking for anything from swimwear to apparel, rescue equipment to guard accessories, check out the Lifeguard Shop for great products at a great value.
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First-Aid Checklist for Pools
Every pool should have essential first-aid gear in case of an emergency. Necessary equipment includes first-aid kits, emergency blankets, rescue tubes, ring buoys, defibrillators and ample safety signage. A simple first-aid kit for the pool area, along with pool rescue equipment, can save lives during emergencies. Use this lifeguard first-aid kit checklist to make sure your staff is prepared for anything.
Pool First-Aid Checklist
At pools, minor scrapes and bruises are common. While implementing safety rules such as no running and no shallow diving can help decrease minor injuries, it's still important to be prepared. More serious injuries can also occur, and administering first aid on-site can save lives. Your pool should have all fundamental supplies in a pool first-aid kit. Here is a pool first-aid kit checklist with all the basics:
- At least two absorbent compresses
- At least 25 bandages in assorted sizes
- One 10-yard adhesive cloth tape
- At least five 1-gram antibiotic ointment packs
- Aspirin, at least two packets of 81-milligram tablets
- A breathing barrier
- A cold compress
- Non-latex gloves of various sizes
- At least two hydrocortisone ointment packets
- A pair of scissors
- At least two roller bandages of different widths
- At least 10 sterile gauze pads of various widths
- An oral thermometer
- At least two triangular bandages
- A pair of tweezers
It's a good idea to purchase a few complete first-aid kits, depending on the size of your pool. Choose a kit with official Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification for pool first aid. These kits exceed swimming pool first-aid kit requirements. In addition to the basic items, this kit includes wound closure strips, finger splints, splinter removers and aspirin alternatives. It can be wall-mounted or carried by the handle.
You may also want to supplement this first-aid kit with several fast response kits, which lifeguards can wear at their stations. Immediate access to a fast response kit may allow for quicker care during an emergency. You may also want one or more waterproof and windproof emergency blankets to reflect body heat, as well as extra sunscreen.
Additional Safety Items Your Pool Should Have
Pools also require additional safety items beyond the standard first-aid kits. Rescue tubes and ring buoys are vital for removing drowning swimmers from the water, and defibrillators can save someone in the event of cardiac arrest. Posting ample safety signage can keep emergencies from happening in the first place by educating swimmers on safe behavior. Make sure to include all the following items in your swimming pool safety equipment checklist:
1. Rescue Tubes
Rescue tubes allow lifeguards to pull people from the water. They're made from water-resistant flexible foam with a towline and shoulder strap for the lifeguard as well as a fitting or hook for the swimmer. Using a rescue tube, a lifeguard can swim unhindered while towing someone behind them, which is much easier than swimming with someone under your arm.
Every pool should have at least as many standard rescue tubes as it has lifeguards on duty. Choose a strong, durable tube, several inches wide and several inches thick. Opt for a color that will stand out in the water, such as red, to make rescues easier.
2. Ring Buoys
Ring buoys are a classic water rescue tool that can be found on many ships and beaches. Your pool should have several ring buoys within a convenient distance of the water. Doughnut-shaped ring buoys allow a struggling swimmer to grab on while someone else pulls them to land with a throw rope.
Consider the size of the ring buoy your pool may need, as different sizes offer different advantages. Smaller ring buoys are lighter weight, which makes them easier to carry and throw long distances. If your pool is especially wide, a smaller ring might be the right option for you. On the other hand, larger ring buoys have better buoyancy, meaning they can support larger swimmers or multiple swimmers at a time. You may want to have several ring buoy sizes available.
3. Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)
Your pool should also have an automated external defibrillator (AED) in case a pool-goer experiences cardiac arrest. It can happen to anyone at any time, and waiting for an ambulance to arrive might not be an option. An AED can restore normal heart rhythms for immediate relief from cardiac arrest. Be sure to provide your lifeguards with training on how to use an AED and purchase an AED with programmed, automatic instruction.
4. Safety Signage
Also important for pool safety is adequate signage. Every pool requires signage indicating unsafe activities. You may need any of the following signs, depending on your pool amenities:
- No breath holding sign: Breath-holding games can cause swimmers of any age to lose consciousness underwater and potentially drown. You may want to include no breath-holding signage to deter swimmers from such activities. Be sure your lifeguards keep an eye out for breath-holding play.
- Slide caution sign: If your pool has a slide, a slide caution sign is a must. It will tell swimmers to wait for the signal from the slide attendant, which can help avoid dangerous collisions at the bottom of the slide.
- No diving sign: Pools with areas of shallow water must have no diving signage. Diving into shallow water can cause traumatic brain injuries and drowning.
- First-aid station sign: You may also want to include signage indicating where the first-aid station is. That way, anyone will be able to find the first-aid gear in the event of an emergency.
In addition to these signs, you may also want to include lifeguard stand signage, lifeguard on duty or not on duty posters, pool closed and open signs and hand-washing instruction sheets. Such safety signage can help prevent injuries at your pool.
Get First-Aid Supplies and Safety Gear From The Lifeguard Store
Swimming safety items are necessary at any pool. Bandages, painkillers, cold compresses and other first-aid gear can help with minor to serious cuts and scrapes. Tubes and buoys can prevent swimmers from drowning, and AEDs can rescue any pool-goers who experience cardiac arrest. In general, safety signage can help prevent emergencies before they happen.
Gather all the first-aid supplies and safety gear you need to make your pool as safe as possible. You can find everything you need for your pool at The Lifeguard Store. We supply pools with lifeguard uniforms, training gear, signage, chairs, diving boards and anything else a pool might need. To get started creating a safe, fun and relaxing pool, browse our pool supply merchandise today.
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How to Use a Lifeguard Spineboard
Lifeguards play a vital role. Swimmers rely on lifeguards to keep everyone safe as they swim and enjoy their time in the water, whether they spend it in a lake, pond, ocean or community swimming pool. When you're on duty, everyone can enjoy the water with confidence, knowing you have their back.
Every lifeguard hopes to avoid water emergencies, but you have to be ready if they occur. You're responsible for doing all you can to save someone who needs your help in the water. You'll use various items to perform these life-saving procedures. One of the tools you need to be ready to use is the lifeguard spineboard.
What Is a Lifeguard Spineboard?
The lifeguard spineboard goes by several names, including the backboard and the pool spinal board. These names give a hint toward their purpose — they're the tool you'll use when someone suffers a back or spinal injury in the water. Spinal injuries can be severe, requiring specialized tools to prevent further harm. Spineboards are essential for aquatic spinal injury rescues.
A lifeguard backboard functions much like the stretchers used by EMTs and paramedics. Their purpose is to keep a patient immobilized during transportation. Moving or bending a patient's spine after injury could cause more damage and worsen the situation's severity. Immobilized patient transportation is crucial to ensuring the patient has the best chance for recovery. The spineboard's built-in head immobilizer and straps help make this possible.
As a lifeguard, you'll need a spineboard to give an injured person that chance for recovery until the ambulance arrives to bring them to the hospital. When someone sustains an injury in the water, you must use a spineboard if there's even a slight possibility they've sustained spinal trauma. Water can be unpredictable, especially in the ocean and other large, moving bodies of water.
The goal of using a spineboard is to remove the patient from the water without causing any more movement or damage to the spine. Make sure you're using a high-quality spineboard you can count on. The Lifeguard Store is your destination for spineboards that will help you perform a successful rescue procedure.
How to Use a Lifeguard Spineboard
You'll need to use the correct spinal board procedure in the water to save the injury victim. Knowing how to backboard and practicing the process is the only way to ensure a successful rescue. In this section, we'll take a look at how to backboard a patient.
1. Take Immediate Action
After the injury has occurred, you must take these next steps right away:
- Blow your whistle to clear the pool.
- Instruct someone nearby, either a lifeguard or civilian, to call 911.
- Send someone to retrieve the automatic external defibrillator if you need it after removing the victim from the water.
- Have another lifeguard bring you a spineboard and prepare to enter the water.
This task demands the strength and cooperation of two lifeguards. Be sure you're both ready for action after performing the steps listed above.
2. Enter the Water and Stabilize the Victim's Head and Neck
In an oceanic situation, you'll have to fight with waves and currents during the entire rescue. In a public pool setting, you have more control over what happens. Gently slide into the water to avoid splashes or ripples in the water that could disturb the victim and cause more spinal damage. Walk toward the victim if the water is shallow enough, doing all you can to keep the water calm and still for the injured person.
Once you reach the victim, raise their arms over their head and bring them to a point. This position will hold their head in place until you're ready to use the spineboard. Keep the person's body straight in the water, parallel to the water's surface. Be sure to keep their head immobilized until the end of the rescue, as letting it move after immobilization could be detrimental.
3. Place the Victim on the Spineboard and Reposition
As you keep the victim's head immobilized, the second lifeguard must maneuver the spineboard through the water so the victim can rest on it. Have the second lifeguard told the spineboard on its side and dunk it straight into the water. The spineboard will want to float back up. As this happens, the second lifeguard will move the spineboard, so it slowly rises flat against the victim's back. Make sure the victim's head is in the spineboard's head restraint box.
Then, you can prepare to secure the victim to the spineboard by repositioning them. The second lifeguard should rest their forearm on the victim's chest, holding their head by the chin. Lower the victim's arms so they rest on their abdomen. Next, make your way to the wall of the pool to give you more leverage and security. Hold this position so the second lifeguard can dunk floating rescue tubes under the spineboard's head and foot, providing necessary support.
4. Secure the Victim to the Spineboard
The second lifeguard should then attach the victim to the spineboard to avoid further movement. Begin with the top strap, securing it under the victim's arms and over their chest. This strap keeps the patient stabilized when tilting the spineboard up and out of the water during the removal process. Then, fasten the remaining straps over the victim's entire body, being sure to make a firm connection with the straps' Velcro or buckle mechanisms.
Direct your attention to the victim's head, which you have been stabilizing up to this point. Have the second lifeguard apply both sides of the head restraint to the patient's head as you slowly remove your hands. Secure the head restraints with the included strap, attaching it above the forehead.
5. Remove the Victim From the Water
At this point, you and your partner are ready to take the injured person out of the water. Both of you should stand on either side of the spineboard and lift it so the top rests on the pool's gutter. Secure the spineboard as your partner exits the pool and takes a position behind the victim's head. Once they have secured the board, move to the foot of the board and prepare for removal.
On your count, have your partner pull the spineboard toward them as you push from your position. Keep the spineboard as low to the ground as possible to avoid dropping it and hurting the patient. Once you've removed the patient, cover them in a towel or blanket and apply first aid to any other injuries as you wait for the medical professionals to arrive.
Be Ready for Spinal Injuries With Spineboards From The Lifeguard Store
A spineboard is an essential tool for lifeguards everywhere. We make shopping for spineboards easy and convenient. You can do it all from the comfort of your home, and you can have confidence in your purchase thanks to our superior customer service quality products. We offer affordable prices, no-hassle returns and fast shipping, to name a few of the ways we enhance the online spineboard shopping process.
Contact us today to learn more or talk to a representative at 800-846-7052. Invest in swimmers' safety by keeping a spineboard from The Lifeguard Store on hand at all times. We look forward to equipping you with all the lifeguard gear you need.
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What to Bring to Your First Day Lifeguarding
Starting a new lifeguarding job is exciting and perhaps a little nerve-wracking. To prepare, you'll want to know what to bring to work as a lifeguard from day one. Every lifeguard needs a few essentials on hand at all times, and it's smart to gather these supplies before the job starts. Here's everything you need to know about what to expect on that exciting first day of work, and what to bring with you.
Your Lifeguarding First-Day Checklist
You'll need to have several things with you on your first day of lifeguarding, and every day working as a lifeguard after that. First, get a dedicated bag for your lifeguarding supplies, and ensure you always have it organized and ready to go. Backpacks and small duffel bags work well as lifeguarding bags that will hold all your essentials. The exact details of what you may need can vary depending on your job and where you lifeguard, but in general, these are the lifeguard bag essentials you should have.
- Uniform and swimwear: Every lifeguard needs a swimsuit! If your job has a required uniform, be sure to wear or bring it to work every day. If you have some leeway with your swimwear choices, be sure to find something comfortable, as you'll be spending a lot of time in this suit. Your uniform may also include shorts and a T-shirt you can wear over your swimsuit, so be sure to wear or bring these as well. You might also want a sweatshirt or light jacket in case of cooler weather. A hat or visor is also a practical accessory to shade your face from the sun, but this is usually totally optional.
- A towel: Keep a quality towel in your gear bag to dry off after time in the water. Choose absorbent, lightweight towels.
- Whistle and lanyard: Ensure you've got a whistle and a sturdy lanyard to keep it safe and handy. Whistles help lifeguards signal to swimmers and co-workers.
- Personal care items: Be sure to take care of yourself while on the job. Pack a UV-blocking pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and glare off the water, and some lip balm and sunscreen to protect your skin. Look for SPF 30 or higher on any sunscreen product, including lip balm, and remember to reapply every two hours to avoid sunburn and skin damage. Lifeguards tend to go through lots of sunblock, so stock up!
- Water bottle and snacks: Staying hydrated is crucial for lifeguards, especially in hotter weather. Keep a quality water bottle in your bag at all times, top it off with fresh water, then remember to drink up. Pack a few healthy snacks in your bag, too, to maintain your energy levels throughout the day. If you have a long shift, don't forget a meal for your lunch break.
- CPR mask: Prepare for emergencies while protecting yourself with a CPR mask. You'll find various CPR masks available, from simple pocket shields to fancier mask kits. All these masks allow a rescue worker to perform lifesaving CPR while preventing the transfer of saliva or other bodily fluids.
- CPR and lifeguard certifications: On your first day on the job, you may need to bring your lifeguard and CPR certifications to show your manager before you start. You likely won't need to carry these around every day, but you'll want to have them handy if you complete a recertification course or begin a new position.
Once you've got all these essential items packed in your lifeguarding bag, you'll be fully ready for your first day as a lifeguard. With your supplies on hand, you're all set to hit the pool — or beach. Once you're on the job, you may also receive additional supplies to carry with you, such as a first-aid kit, a rescue tube, a walkie-talkie or other items a lifeguard needs to fulfill their responsibilities.
What to Expect During Your First Day
The first day on any job can be a little bit anxiety-inducing — especially with a responsibility as vital as lifeguarding — but you don't need to be nervous. After all, this is what you've been training for. Before your first day, study your lifeguarding manual or handbook to ensure all the information is fresh in your mind when you start work. You may also want to review these guidelines periodically throughout the season to ensure you remember everything you need to do to respond quickly in emergencies.
On your very first day at your lifeguarding job, you will likely have some additional training on the procedures specific to that job. Initially, you may shadow another lifeguard or employee before you get to work independently. When you start lifeguarding, your supervisor will probably assign you to a post, either standing in one area or sitting in a lifeguard's chair. In either case, you'll need to keep scanning the water, ensuring all swimmers are safe and following the rules.
Remain at your post until it's time to switch places or go home for the day. Keep yourself hydrated and well-fed, so you have the energy to keep working. Stay vigilant, watching for any issues and dangers, and don't be afraid to ask questions or request help when you need it. When you take time to prepare for your first day of lifeguarding and have the right supplies on hand, you can work with confidence and succeed at your new job.
Get Everything You Need for Your First Day of Lifeguarding
If you're gearing up for a new lifeguarding job, you'll want to get all the essential things a lifeguard needs. Stock up on supplies for a lifeguard's first day at The Lifeguard Store. From swimsuits and extra clothing for lifeguards to water bottles, bags, first-aid equipment and sunscreen, we are your one-stop shop for all your lifeguarding gear. We offer an extensive selection of lifeguard products and have excellent customer service to help you find what you need. Shop with us today!
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How to Use a CPR Pocket Mask as a Lifeguard
Drowning-related dangers extend beyond the victim — lifeguards are tasked with intervening with lifesaving measures and equipment, including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR. These lifesaving measures put lifeguards in direct contact with the swimmer's bodily fluids, creating an unhygienic and potentially dangerous situation.
Lifeguard CPR pocket masks are the most effective method of delivering CPR without the need for direct mouth-to-mouth contact. Read on to learn more about these essential pieces of equipment and how to use a CPR pocket mask to keep you and your swimmers safe.
What Is a CPR Pocket Mask?
Without a CPR rescue mask, mouth-to-mouth CPR exposes lifeguards to the drowning victim's bodily fluids. Contact with another person's bodily fluid can expose you to bacteria, viruses and even some contagious diseases. When you use pocket masks for resuscitation, you avoid this risk, keeping you safe and freeing your focus to aid the swimmer in need.
CPR pocket masks are considered both lifesaving tools and personal protective equipment. Their soft PVC construction and silicone valve piece conform to a swimmer's face when the lifeguard applies pressure. Once in position, the mask forms a tight seal around the swimmer's mouth and nose and eliminates the need to pinch the victim's nose closed.
Pocket masks are small and portable, ideal for stashing in your lifeguard kit or anywhere easily accessible in an emergency. They are also easy to clean and have different removable parts, like filters and valves, to replace after each emergency use.
Types of CPR Pocket Masks
Not all pocket rescue masks are alike. Though they look similar, some have different intended applications or specifications. A few types you might encounter as a lifeguard are:
- Age-dependent masks: CPR pocket masks have their intended age printed on the packaging and listed in the user manual. Most adult rescue masks are also compatible with children, as long as they are older than infant age. Infant masks are smaller and suitable for babies according to either age or weight and may come with an Infant Disposable Resuscitator. Some rescue masks work for children, adults and infants — always read instructions for specific sizing and sealing instructions.
- Practice masks: Practice masks are designed specifically for CPR training with dummies. You do not need to change filters and valves after practicing with these unless otherwise directed.
- Oxygen compatibility: Some CPR pocket masks are compatible with supplemental oxygen and include a head strap so you can administer both at once.
- Mask kits: If you purchase your CPR pocket mask in a kit, it will also come with accessories. Your kit may include disposable gloves, an instruction manual, an oxygen valve, disinfecting wipes and a hard or soft case for safe storage. Replenish these items as needed.
How to Use a CPR Pocket Mask While Lifeguarding
A CPR face mask works by creating a seal over the victim's nose and mouth. All oxygen administered travels through a one-way filter, directly into their airways, without exposing the lifeguard to unnecessary health risks. Your lifeguard training program and place of employment may have specific protocols in place for pocket mask usage — always follow all safety guidelines.
Though every emergency is different, these are the basic steps for operating a CPR pocket mask.
Prepare the Mask and Patient
Start by following your facility's emergency protocol guidelines, including calling 911 if necessary. Then, follow these steps to administer air to the victim:
- Apply chest compressions according to your lifeguard training and the situation's severity.
- Tilt the swimmer's head backward on their neck unless signs of neck injury or other damages are present.
- Inspect the CPR mask and ensure all parts are in-tact and attached. Push the dome out if it's collapsed.
- Position the mask dome until the exhalation points away from the swimmer's nose on the outward-facing side.
Secure the Mask
A gentle, secure seal is the most critical part of CPR mask usage. Because every second counts in an emergency, you should practice with a dummy until you are comfortable with the protocol.
Seal an adult and child mask with these steps:
- Place the wide chin end between the swimmer's lower lip and their chin.
- Place the lower nose-shaped end over the swimmer's nose.
- Use both hands, including thumbs, to apply the mask to the swimmer's face.
- Press gently — yet firmly — around the edges to keep the mask in place.
Infant masks come with their own, similar instructions. Some adult masks may come with supplemental steps for emergency use on infants.
Once the mask is sealed, it's time to open the respiratory valve and blow through it so the victim receives oxygen. Place the valve in your mouth, careful not to pucker your lips too much. Always blow gently and carefully, observing the victim each step of the way, and follow these steps:
- Start by checking the patient's pulse and breathing. Give two ventilations to begin.
- According to the Red Cross, you should then deliver one ventilation to adults every five seconds and every three seconds for a child or infant. Ventilations should last roughly one second each time.
- Always check that the victim's chest rises and stop blowing through the valve while you wait for the chest to fall.
- Repeat as needed and check for breathing status and pulse updates at least every two minutes for no longer than 10 seconds per check-up.
Should the victim's chest fail to rise after giving air, or you cannot detect a pulse, you may need to combat choking or provide additional care. A few complications can occur while administering ventilation. Air can leak from the mask if not sealed properly. Remove and reapply the mask, and adjust your grip as needed.
Some drowning victims may vomit, spit up or suffer from foam in their airways that you should wipe away from the mouth and nose before administering ventilation. Wear disposable gloves and use disinfecting wipes as needed.
Discard and Disinfect the Mask
Once the victim is stable or emergency personnel has taken control of the situation, discard any replaceable filters and valves. Wash the mask with warm water and soap and disinfect according to instructions. Replace the filter and valve before collapsing the mask and putting it back in your pack.
Shop Pocket CPR Masks at The Lifeguard Store
A quality CPR mask can make all the difference in emergency situations. Get the gear you need to protect yourself and your swimmers at The Lifeguard Store, including masks, first aid supplies, flotation devices, rescue tubes and more.
Learn More About Lifeguard Equipment:
What Should Lifeguards Wear on the Job?
It's essential to know what to wear as a lifeguard. You need to be able to jump in the water at a moment's notice, move your body without restriction and stand out from a distance in case of emergency. Every second counts. You need the right swimwear, apparel, footwear and accessories. Learn how to dress as a lifeguard.
The right lifeguard swimsuit is one of the most important elements of the lifeguard uniform. Your suit needs to stand out — everyone should recognize you as the lifeguard from a glance. Standard colors are red with white lettering, but you might wear blue or black depending on your role. You should also have a full range of motion without having to readjust or feeling any restriction.
Women's lifeguard suits allow for some variety. In many cases, the best option is a simple cutout or racerback one-piece suit. This offers full mobility and security, as well as sun protection on your stomach. You can be sure it'll stay on tight no matter what you need to do.
If you have the option to wear a two-piece, make sure to choose something secure. Many women's two-piece swimsuits are designed for fashion over function. Remember, you have to be able to jump into the water and rescue someone. Choose a suit that will cling to you, like a reversible workout-style bikini. Opt for a snug, secure fit. You might also overlap your bottoms with a pair of lightweight flex shorts.
As a male lifeguard, you may only need adjustable swim trunks with an elastic waistband. However, you might decide to pair your trunks with a short or long sleeve crew neck rashguard. This will offer some sun protection as well as warmth on cooler days. It's quick-drying and flexible, so you don't need to take it off before a rescue. You can print your logo onto it as well to help you stand out from the crowd.
Some days might be cold, windy or rainy. If you need to put on outerwear, you should still be recognizable as a lifeguard. You'll also want to choose outerwear that's easy to toss aside if needed. A good option is a zipper-down waterproof hoodie printed with the word "guard." It'll protect you from the elements while allowing you to stand out. With its full-front zipper, it's easy to take off at a moment's notice. For something a bit warmer, you might need an inner-fleece-lined podium parka. This is perfect for swim meets, training days or events. It'll keep you warm, dry and comfortable.
While off duty, you might want to throw on a pair of guard-labeled drawstring sweatpants. These are perfect for a cool morning or between duty rotations. If you work in an air-conditioned indoor facility, you'll be glad to have some extra warmth. Along with your sweatpants, you might want to layer with a warm, pullover hooded sweatshirt. With "guard" wording on your lifeguard outfit, you'll still be recognizable as someone who can help in an emergency.
The right lifeguard footwear can make a big difference for both your comfort and your effectiveness. While tennis shoes are cozy and protective, they offer no waterproofing and may slow you down during a rescue. You'll most often want to wear a pair of flip-flops, which are easy to kick off whenever needed. For training exercises, you might need a pair of flexible swim fins. These can help improve your swimming strength.
You're likely to need a few accessories for your beach or pool lifeguard uniform. Some are necessary for first-aid. Some will help you draw attention when needed. Others will ensure your safety and comfort.
Every lifeguard needs a hip pack with a resuscitation kit. The contents of the kit will help you avoid mouth-to-mouth contact for your safety and the victim's. This hip pack includes an oxygen inlet face mask, a pair of nitrile gloves, a wipe and an instruction packet. You might add other first-aid materials to your hip pack, too, including different size bandages and adhesive tape.
Every lifeguard needs a powerful whistle. You have to be able to command attention in an instant. You might need to alert swimmers of an unsafe situation or stop dangerous behavior. As a lifeguard, your primary goal is to keep everyone safe — you can only do so with a loud, reliable whistle. A weak, quiet or broken whistle could spell danger for swimmers.
Your whistle needs to be immediately available. If you have to dig it out of your pocket, you'll waste precious seconds. This is why almost all lifeguards wear their whistles on around-the-neck lanyards. You can choose a fun lanyard color to match your taste or your facility's color scheme.
A pair of polarized guard sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement. They'll protect your eyes from dangerous ultraviolet rays and ensure a full range of visibility. Squinting against the sun might cause you to miss something important, so sunglasses are essential for safety.
Staying hydrated is always necessary, especially since you may need to spring into action at any second. Keep this 32-ounce guard-labeled water bottle by your side as you supervise the swim zone.
Always remember to wear sunscreen! Even if you are not prone to burns, constant exposure to ultraviolet light over time can lead to skin cancer. Before every shift and once or twice throughout the day, be sure to apply at least sun protection factor (SPF) 30 sunscreen.
A towel is an accessory every lifeguard should have on-hand. Even if you never have to jump into the water, you're bound to be splashed or sprinkled with rain from time to time. You'll need a quick-drying, microfiber, full-size towel. This can help you stay dry for comfort and safe mobility.
Find Lifeguard Apparel and Equipment at The Lifeguard Store
The uniform of a lifeguard prioritizes safety, comfort and adaptability. It's a good idea to wear a secure, flexible swimsuit with appropriate footwear and accessories. Keep in mind, you might be sitting under the hot sun all day. Sunscreen, rash guards and sunglasses will protect your skin and eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays. On other days, you might have to endure chilly winds or rain, in which case you might want a waterproof jacket or pair of sweatpants. In either case, you'll always need a hip pack, whistle and water bottle.
Find all of the swimwear, outerwear and accessories you need at The Lifeguard Store. We also supply facility equipment, rescue equipment, swimming aids and water fitness training gear. Anything you might need as a lifeguard, we offer. You can shop by category, brand or sale. Browse our wide selection of lifeguard products today.
Learn More About Lifeguarding:
Tips for Managing and Positioning Your Lifeguards
At any pool or aquatic center, lifeguards are essential for protecting the safety of all guests. Many of today's pools go beyond a simple rectangular shape, often featuring curving lazy rivers, huge waterslides, wave pools and splash pads, that can all make lifeguard management more complicated. Add to this a young, sometimes inexperienced staff, and it can seem difficult to know how many lifeguards you need and how best to position them. We've gathered our favorite tips for overcoming these challenges so you can successfully manage your team of lifeguards.
Tips for Managing Lifeguards
If you employ lifeguards, it's highly likely that most of them are quite young, maybe even teenagers who have not had much work experience. This can come with some benefits, such as a staff that's full of energy and enthusiasm, without old habits from previous jobs that need some re-training. But there are also some challenges with such a young staff. Here are our favorite tips for lifeguard management:
- Provide clear communication: This goes for employees of any type and any age, but it's especially important for young lifeguards. Whether it's job expectations, schedule changes or something else, make sure you clearly state the information and ensure that it is received and understood. The younger generation responds best to emails and text messages, so use these methods as often as you can.
- Set clear expectations: When you have a largely inexperienced staff, you'll want to ensure all the details of the job are incredibly clear. Before you put a new lifeguard on the job, be sure to go over your company policies, lifeguard responsibilities, safety issues and emergency training. Also outline other job basics, like scheduling, policies about calling in or finding a substitute, dress codes and any additional duties such as cleanup or customer service tasks. Some of these basics may seem like common sense to an experienced professional but are not so obvious to a brand-new employee, so be very clear about all of the rules and expectations.
- Offer step-by-step instructions: Even if something may seem simple to you, different employees may interpret vague instructions differently. For any procedure or duty, break it down into clear, manageable steps. Even for something seemingly straightforward, such as a cleaning task, write out the exact steps for how you want things done. This way, everyone is on the same page and can do their jobs more efficiently.
- Hold everyone accountable: Challenge your staff to be the best, and make sure everyone is accountable for their actions. Don't let things slide just because your staff is young and inexperienced. Lifeguards especially should know they are responsible for their actions and understand the consequences for negative behaviors and choices.
- Provide constructive feedback: If you don't give any feedback, your team may not know if they're doing a good job. To keep everyone on track, be sure to provide regular constructive feedback. Reward great service and turn mistakes into teachable moments to keep things positive. Use lots of positive reinforcement to encourage the good work habits you want to see. You should also give evaluations and provide instruction and correction when something isn't going well. You might have the chance to mold these new, young lifeguards into better employees.
Tips for Positioning Lifeguards
One of the most important aspects of lifeguard management is positioning. You want your staff to be located in the right spots around your property to ensure maximum visibility and safety for your guests. The shape of your pools and water features, seating areas and other amenities can affect how you should manage and position your lifeguard staff. Even with a simple rectangular pool, positioning of lifeguards is critical. Here are our best tips for ensuring the most beneficial lifeguard positioning:
- Understand your challenge areas: Every pool or aquatic center is unique, so it's essential to understand the challenges of your property. Different water features, such as wave pools, waterslides, lazy rivers or unique pool shapes, can all pose challenges and create blind spots that may require more lifeguards on staff to ensure each area is visible and protected.
- Plan ahead when building or adding on: If you're building a new pool area, adding on to an existing pool or remodeling, try to plan ahead in terms of your design for where your lifeguards will need to be positioned and how many lifeguards you'll likely need for safety. It's impossible to know exactly how many lifeguards and where to position them until you have the pool completed, but you can usually estimate and make a plan. Keep your staffing budget in mind with the suggested designs and special features you plan to install and try to plan for your lifeguard coverage zones.
- Consult industry guidelines: While every property will be unique, some general standards can give you a good starting place to know where to place your lifeguards. Check in with the industry guidelines for specific water features like slides and lazy rivers to estimate how many lifeguards you will need.
- Utilize all the positioning options: Most pools and aquatic centers can benefit from a variety of lifeguard positioning options. A combination of elevated stands of different heights and roving lifeguards on foot is best for full coverage and safety. This combination ensures that lifeguards have quick access to swimmers in need while also having better vantage points to see larger areas and deeper water sections.
- Perform test runs and make adjustments: Following guidelines and making plans are great ideas, but you won't know the exact positioning necessary until your pool is in active use. Try out some test runs with different zone coverage and lifeguarding, making adjustments as necessary for optimal and safe coverage. Perform tests at different times of the day and in different seasons to check for things like visibility, crowd size and other environmental factors. Adjust your staffing as necessary to accommodate for these changing conditions.
Lifeguard Products From the Lifeguard Store
The Lifeguard Store has everything you need for lifeguard management and positioning. From apparel and rescue equipment to elevated lifeguard chairs and other accessories, we've got you covered. Shop The Lifeguard Store for everything you need to equip your team and keep all of your pool guests safe.
Learn More Lifeguard Tips:
- How to Avoid Sunburn as a Lifeguard
- How to Stay Safe on the Lifeguard Stand
- How to Stay Warm as a Lifeguard When It’s Cold Outside
- How to Handle Disruptive Guests at the Pool
- How to Get Ready for Lifeguard Season
- What You Need to Know About Shallow Water Lifeguarding
- Tips for Maintaining Focus and Improving Scanning for Lifeguards
A Day in the Life of a Lifeguard
Any lifeguard can tell you there's a lot more to lifeguarding than sitting in a tower staring at swimmers in the water. Working as a lifeguard is both challenging and rewarding, and it comes with a lot of responsibility. The day-to-day experience and duties can vary a little depending on where a lifeguard works. Let's dive in to what it's like to be a lifeguard at a pool and at a beach.
A Day in the Life of a Pool Lifeguard
Lifeguards working at pools keep guests safe while swimming or splashing around. In addition, they may have other duties they're in charge of, depending on the property. Today, a pool can be a simple rectangular lap pool, a water park full of slides, wave pools, splash pads and more, or something in between. Each type of pool or aquatic center comes with its own set of challenges for lifeguards to be aware of. Here's what a typical day looks like for a pool lifeguard:
1. Morning Arrival at Work
When do lifeguards start their day? Shifts for lifeguards can vary, especially if both full-time and part-time hours are offered, or if the pool has long hours. Generally, some lifeguards will need to arrive before the pool opens and the guests start arriving. They will check in at a main office or lifeguard station to start their day.
If there are several different posts around the swimming area, the lifeguards will likely be assigned specific posts to attend to. They may need to ensure their stations are stocked with floatation devices, backboards and first aid kits. Some lifeguards may be required to do some cleanup work on the decks, lifeguard chairs and other equipment. Some may even check the pool water for the right chemical levels.
2. During the Shift
Throughout the day, a lifeguard will generally spend about 20 minutes to 30 minutes at a time at their assigned post. Once at a post, the lifeguard cannot leave the area and must stay alert and vigilant, watching the water. At the end of the 20- to 30-minute segment, the lifeguards will rotate posts. This helps prevent boredom and ensures a fresh set of eyes on each area of the pool. Each lifeguard will watch their assigned area of the pool, waterslide or other water feature.
Lifeguards may use techniques like walkie talkies to communicate issues and constantly count heads in the pool to keep track of all swimmers in the water. Lifeguards usually have whistles to get the attention of guests or to signal for help from other staff members. If someone goes under, is struggling or is having a medical emergency, the lifeguard will jump in to help. Rescues are rare, but a lifeguard is always prepared. They are trained in CPR, first aid and can handle other emergencies. During their shift, lifeguards generally have at least one break for mealtime, and sometimes extra breaks too.
3. End of the Day
If a lifeguard's shift ends before closing time of the pool, another lifeguard will replace them at their post so they may leave. If a lifeguard works a closing shift, they may have to announce the closing time to guests and ensure everyone is out of the water when it's time to close. They will likely perform safety checks around the pool area, put away any supplies and clean up their station. They may or may not also have some additional cleanup duties around the pool area at the end of the day. When this is complete, they can sign out and leave for the day.
A Day in the Life of an Oceanfront or Beach Lifeguard
At the oceanfront or beach, a lifeguard has many of the same duties as they would at a pool. These lifeguards are trained in CPR, first aid and other emergencies, and they are always watching for dangers. But there are some key differences when guarding in these areas. The ocean or a lake is much larger than a pool. With waves, riptides and currents, the dangers in the water are different, and it's often more difficult to see what's happening under the surface of the water. Here's a day in the life of a beach lifeguard:
- Day-to-day responsibilities: Much like a pool lifeguard, a beach lifeguard will check in for the day and head to their specific post on the beach. They may have some re-stocking and station cleaning to do, but once at the post, the main responsibility is the safety of beachgoers. Oceanfront lifeguards must be diligent about watching swimmers in the water, but they often watch for other hazards on the sand or nearby trails, too.
- Beachfront challenges: Usually a beach lifeguard is in charge of a fairly large area of the beach, which is a challenge itself. A good lifeguard knows about the specific topography of their beach, including the location of things like rock formations and reefs. They also know how to watch for rip currents and dangerous weather. These hazards can change over the course of a day, so an experienced beach lifeguard watches for changing conditions as well.
- Regular drills: Beach lifeguards must be in great shape and constantly prove their abilities. Many beach lifeguard programs have required daily workouts, as well as regular testing of distance swimming and other skills. Additional testing and certification is also necessary if lifeguards use rescue watercraft.
How long do lifeguards work in a day? Lifeguarding is hard work, and this is one of the most commonly asked questions. The short answer is that there is no set schedule or shift length. It can vary depending on the organization you work for and the details of the individual job. Shifts have the potential to be quite short or very long. If you're thinking of becoming a lifeguard, find out the average shift length of the specific location you want to work at.
Prepare for Lifeguarding Success With Professional Equipment
Life as a lifeguard is both challenging and rewarding. The right lifeguarding supplies and equipment can make a lifeguard's job that much easier while preparing them for success in any situation. Everything you could possibly need for a job as a lifeguard, you can find at The Lifeguard Store. We are proud to outfit and equip lifeguards to help them do their crucial lifesaving work. Shop The Lifeguard Store today for all your lifeguard supply needs.