Sunday, August 11, 2013


The caption of this post is not new. It happens more often than we would like for it to and it is very unfortunate and hard to explain to grieving families.

Parents believe that when they send their children to a pool, they are safe because there are lifeguards on site to watch over everyone. And it should be that way, but it does not always happen.

When a guard is certified by an instructor of a certifying agency, it means that they have met the minimal standards of that agency for certification on that day. There is no guarantee that a guard will be able to respond to an incident such as a drowning. After all, most of these guards are under 21 years of age and are in fact a child as well.

Sometimes young people see the sun bathing, the girls, the boys and the  glory of being a guard, and want it so much that they will purchase a certification card on the black market because they want the job and cannot pass the certification or do  not want to put the work into the certification.

Management, a lot of times, may not even be aquatic trained. Our local pool when I was growing up, was ran by a woman that could not even swim. And this happens a lot as well, especially in small towns and rural areas like ours.

But it is the managements place to be sure that they have fully investigated the training of the guards they hire and that they understand the skills that are actually needed to prevent an incident and if need be to make a rescue according to their Emergency Action Plan that they have outlined and posted.

The management is also responsible for holding daily in-service training for guards to stay up on their skills needed for rescue and that includes a high level of swimming ability. In-service training should include timed swim checks with equipment, back boarding for head, back and neck injuries, CPR, rescue breathing and AED skills. Those that work at the facility, including management and concession, should be a part of the in-service training and understand their role in the Emergency Action Plan.

Parents have the right to ask management about the facilities Emergency Action Plan as well as the abilities of the guards. If a guard looks tired or hung over, parents need to feel that they can report this to management with confidence that the manager does know what to do.

Two things parents should give high consideration to are:
1. Be sure your child is an accomplished swimmer that knows self survival techniques in the water and can swim at least the five basic strokes of swimming (front crawl, back crawl, backstroke, breast stroke and sidestroke) no less than 150 yards. Sorry "doggie paddling" and "finning" on your back are do not count here (although finning can be used for survival). Parents do not leave their children in swimming classes long enough, most of the time, for the child to truly develop into a good swimmer.
2. Get to know the pool, management and guards where your child swims. Be sure the standards of the pool meet your standards for the safety of your child. If you have concerns, address the management. If that does not work, go to the managers supervisor right away and do not be afraid to report what you experienced or saw. You just might be saving a life. And it could be your child's.

Now watch this video of a 14 year old boy's drowning at a pool with eight guards. It should of never happened. No guard came to his rescue. Only a friend and a stranger tried to save him.