Remember what the “Guard” means in Lifeguard

A person or group that protects, watches over, restrains, or controls somebody or something.

To protect somebody or something against danger or loss by being vigilant and taking defensive measures. 

It still blows my mind when I see inattentive Lifeguards going about their work as if nothing could possibly go wrong. I mean, something happens in pools every day and yet a significant minority of Lifeguards don’t get it.

The cornerstone of Lifeguarding is and will always be prevention. Prevention has many elements one of being surveillance. If you’re not engaged in constant surveillance – always watching to the best of your ability – you’re going to miss something. Once an event has happened, it’s generally easy to detect; had the Lifeguard being paying closer attention, they may have noticed the event unfold or materialize before it became critical – that is what preventive Lifeguarding is all about. Some things happen so fast, such as a toddler bolting out of a change room, that an inattentive guard could miss everything.

Effective surveillance means being three things:

Alert:

Quick to notice and respond to potential danger or problems

Vigilant:

Keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties

Attentive:

Paying close attention 

Lifeguards can’t be alert, vigilant , or attentive if they are engaged in unnecessary distractions such as socializing, or trying to combine maintenance, and guarding.

What’s even more confounding is that research clearly shows that multitasking is at best inefficient and at worst dangerous for those occupations that require single focus. And yet, some guards defy this logic and claim they can handle multiple tasks while lifeguarding.  When the day comes when these unconvinced “multitasking” Lifeguards miss something while lifeguarding we can assume, by their own claims, that they chose to ignore an important critical signal. Explain that to an inquest.

Hey! Just guard the pool; it’s your job.

LP