7 Things You Need to Know Before Becoming a Lifeguard

By Brittany Loeffler on May 10, 2017
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The best summer job is being a lifeguard. You’re out in the sun all day getting a pretty wicked tan and spending all day at either the beach or the pool. You make some great friends with your fellow lifeguards and create lasting summer memories. Not to mention, you’re making some decent money for when you return to college in the fall.

Though lifeguarding is one of the most common and fun summer jobs college students have, it is an important job. You are responsible for the safety of others and are expected to always be alert and ready to save someone if needed. Here is what to expect when taking on a summer job as a lifeguard.

via Pixabay

Pass the Test

Before you can officially become a lifeguard, you must take some classes and pass a written and physical test. Yes, your brain is probably fried from the finals you took last week, but just one more test and you’ll have your summer job locked in! Be prepared to pay close attention and actually learn what your instructor is teaching you. This is absolutely necessary information that you must retain while on the job.

The physical test will require laps, saving people, and treading water. This test will be different depending on whether you are taking a job as a lifeguard at the beach or at a swimming pool.

via Pixabay

Stay Calm

Sometimes, people can be more dangerous than the water they are drowning in. It’s understandable for someone to be frightened and in a panic when drowning and a lifeguard is coming their way. It’s possible that the swimmer refuses help from you because they feel they don’t need it or they grab onto you and start pulling you down as well.

It’s important to stay calm in these types of situations and know exactly what to do. Throw your flotation device to the swimmer and have them grab it. Swim away from them, allowing them some space. It’s important to remember to always keep yourself safe in these situations as well.

Take Care of Yourself

Sitting out in the sun all day can be extremely draining. Remember to always stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. Bring a large insulated water bottle filled with water and ice to keep with you while on the stand.

Make sure to also wear and reapply strong sunscreen. Some people won’t wear sunscreen because they want to get tan, but I promise, you will still have some color even when you’re wearing sunscreen. Nobody likes being sunburned; save yourself the pain.

via Pixabay

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

You’ve all seen Baywatch and the sexy lifeguards that run on the beach. There will be some lifeguards that have some rocking bodies with big muscles and six-packs and there will be others who look more normal. Don’t worry about comparing yourself to how other lifeguards look.

It’s not a competition; it’s a job. You are there to do one thing and that is to watch over your zone and help people in danger. It’s not healthy to always be comparing yourself to how others look anyways, so this is a great place to practice!

Learn Your Scanning Method

When you first come in for your shift, make sure you know exactly where the boundaries of your zone are. This is where you will be focusing on and watching swimmers. Teach yourself how to scan your area while always being aware of every part of your zone.

First, scan side to side. Have your eyes going in a straight line across your zone starting from the top and working their way down to the bottom.

Next, scan from top to bottom. Keeping your focus straight, scan your zone starting from the top and working down to the bottom.

It’s important to always be scanning your zone and to stay aware of where people are and what they are doing at all times.

via Pixabay

Don’t Come to Work Hungover

This is so important. Do not drink heavily the night before a shift as a lifeguard. Sitting in the sun dehydrates you already, how do you think you’ll feel sitting in the sun hungover? You always have to be alert and ready to act on a situation as a lifeguard. When you have a hangover, your reaction time is slower and you are unable to process situations as quickly. People are counting on you to react and help people in a split second. It’s irresponsible to come to work in a state where you cannot do your job to the best of your ability.

Stand Your Ground

You will always have little kids, teenagers, and mothers coming up to you asking why they cannot do something at the beach or at the pool. Be prepared to explain these rules and to stand your ground. You are there for their protection and you set the law of the land. Don’t be afraid to tell someone they are doing something that is not allowed. You have a whistle for a reason, blow it!

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By Brittany Loeffler

Uloop Writer
Brittany is a senior English major with a concentration in creative writing at Temple University. After growing up in a very rural part of Pennsylvania, she found her calling in the streets of the big city of Philadelphia. Aside from writing, she enjoys reading, movies, baking, and photography.

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