Lifeguard rescue tubes are a necessary lifesaving device that every pool, water park, recreational center or public swim area should have equipped. Should someone become injured or start to drown, rescue tubes help pull the victim to safety and keep your lifeguards safe in the process. However, like any tool, rescue tubes can become damaged, ineffective or hazardous if outdated or improperly cared for. Learn how to know when to replace rescue tubes, as well as tips for maintaining them.
What Is a Rescue Tube and What Is It Used For?
Lifeguard rescue tubes are long, flexible buoys made of dense foam and covered in heavy-duty vinyl that lifeguards use to aid in water rescue. These tubes are typically between 40 and 50 inches in length and have a strap attached that lifeguards use to keep the tube on their person during a rescue. The edges of the tube are often rounded and slightly tapered, which helps them last longer and makes them easier to pull through the water. When a victim is struggling or drowning in the water, the lifeguard wraps the strap around them before entering the water, then helps the victim take hold of the tube and pulls them to the water’s edge.
Lifeguard rescue tubes are available in a variety of sizes and colors. Red is the most common color for lifeguard rescue tubes, but many establishments use other bright colors, including yellow, orange or tubes with multi-color patterns.
Signs Your Rescue Tube Needs Replacing
It is critical that you inspect, test and replace any outdated or damaged rescue tubes before your busy season begins. New lifeguard rescue tubes will perform well, keep your lifeguards and swimmers safe and project a professional image. Here are the top signs that you need new rescue tubes:
- It is outdated: When did you purchase your current rescue tubes? If you cannot remember the age — or you received them already used — it is probably a good time to replace them. Outdated rescue tubes are often made of lower-quality vinyl and foam, and they may not perform as well as newer tubes. They may lack the benefit of modern-day construction and design techniques, including strap placement. Another reason to replace outdated tubes is if your business is going through a rebranding or you want to add new colors and patterns to your pool or swim area with newer rescue tubes.
- It is cracking or peeling: Visually inspect the vinyl exterior of your rescue tube. Are there any scratches, scuff marks or holes? Peeled and cracked vinyl looks bad, but, more importantly, it may cut or scrape the skin of the next user. Cracked and peeling rescue tubes may also indicate that they are too old to perform their function adequately. When a tube begins to tear, always cover it with a rescue tube patch, rather than masking it with tape or something similar. Tape is ineffective and does not present a professional or safe image to your patrons.
- It is faded: You want your swimmers to feel confident in your business and your lifeguards’ ability to protect them, should they need it. Faded rescue tubes do not promote a professional image in the same way that clean, vivid tubes do. Faded rescue tubes also indicate age, which may not put swimmers at ease.
- It has absorbed hazardous fluid: The purpose of a rescue tube is to help save the lives of those drowning or injured in the water. Unfortunately, this often lends itself to contact with biohazardous bodily fluids, including blood. If your rescue tubes have absorbed or been stained by hazardous fluids, replace them.
- The straps are broken: The straps on your rescue tube is what keeps the tube firmly attached to the lifeguard while they are rescuing a victim from drowning. If the strap on your tube is torn, frayed or has snapped, replace the entire rescue tube.
- It no longer works: Finally, the most important indicator that you need to replace your rescue tubes is performance. Routinely test your rescue equipment and make sure it still floats and does the job intended, so you know you can count on them when the moment comes. Before or during your establishment’s lifeguard training season, demonstrate the correct way to use all flotation rescue devices. As you do so, take note of the appearance of your rescue tubes, as well as how well they float. Test the strength of each strap and make sure they will not snap when used.
Tips for Maintaining Rescue Tubes
Once you have replaced your outdated, damaged or faded rescue tubes with new ones, maintaining them is easy. Remember the following tips, and your new rescue tubes will last you years to come.
- Clean them regularly: Clean your lifeguard rescue tubes regularly to avoid mildew or stains. Wipe them clean with a vinyl-safe cleaning cloth or soap and allow them to air dry in a well-ventilated space.
- Store them properly: When your pool or waterpark closes for the summer, make sure you store your rescue tubes properly. Do not leave them lying on the deck, exposed to the elements. Instead, allow them time to dry thoroughly before putting them in a rescue tube sleeve. Place the sleeved tubes in an enclosed, dry area, away from direct sunlight. This ensures your rescue tubes will be clean and not faded when you reopen for business.
- Patch when necessary: If you find a small tear or hole in your rescue tube, cover it with a clear rescue tube patch until you can replace it. Look for one with minimal curing time that is safe for all types of rescue tubes.
Find New Rescue Tubes at The Lifeguard Store
Is it time to replace your lifeguard rescue tubes? The Lifeguard Store has several high-quality models available for purchase, including standard tubes, super tubes, cut-away tubes, CPR tubes and more. You can also purchase tubes that read either “guard,” “jr. guard” or “guard of the week.” While you’re shopping, stock up on rescue tube essentials, like tube patches, sleeves and replacement straps to keep your equipment up-to-date and operational.