When the temperatures rise, so does the desire to stay cool in a swimming pool. Aquatics are a popular summer pastime, providing both recreation and physical exercise. You may naturally assume that when you take your family to any public body of water, lifeguards will be there to watch and protect swimmers.
Unfortunately, a shortage of lifeguards has become a continuing reality over the past few years. In fact, a local business that provided lifeguards to pools closed its doors last month, delaying when St. Louis pools opened for the season.
Reasons for the shortage
Teens and young adults used to be a common source of lifeguards, but these age groups are less interested in the position. Some are doing internships or participating in other summer activities that prevent availability. Overall, youth are working less, as well, lowering the number of applicants. The low pay wage and limited city budgets also play a role in the inability to secure lifeguards.
What it means for you
On a practical level, the shortage may mean more pools shortening their season and/or daily hours. Some may not have enough staff to remain open at all. Others may cut corners on training in order to fill positions.
On a safety level, you can no longer rely on there always being a lifeguard on duty to recognize when someone is in danger and help in an emergency. If this is the case, the pool must post signs that lifeguards are not present. If there is no sign and a family member gets hurt, the facility may be responsible for the accident and injury and accountable for compensating you for the financial consequences.
While it is always smart to keep your eyes constantly on your family, you may not know how to respond to water hazards or a near drowning. Even if you do, it is hard to react calmly or remember tips when the time comes. That is what lifeguards are for. Without enough trained lifeguards, your summer fun may come with a higher risk of harm.