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Lifeguarding the Beach

Beach lifeguards provide a patrolling presence on beaches and other stretches of open water.

Their main role is to patrol their beach and provide local safety knowledge to swimmers. They often work with other organisations, such as the Coastguard, local ambulance services, lifeboats and so on. They may also have to deal with drunks and drug users.

A beach has many challenges, like hidden rocks underwater, currents, sunburn and windchill. Have some food and shelter ready. Bring ponchos as windbreakers and changing rooms. Make sure your team wears appropriate clothing for the climate and to keep warm. Lifeguards carry specific rescue equipment which they have been trained to use and which is appropriate to the place where they work.

Lifeguard Towers

Lifeguard towers are used to watch and supervise swimmers in order to prevent drownings and other dangers. Lifeguards scan for trouble from the structures, which vary from beach bungalows by the ocean to poolside towers. Lifeguard towers are also used to spot sharks and other hazards.

Regular Training

The kinds of rescue that beach lifeguards perform often call for stamina and endurance rather than just speed. They rarely work alone. Most beaches would be too complex to do so and this would place them in immediate danger themselves, so they are trained to act as part of a team.

Regular training sessions are part of the job and can be great fun whilst keeping essential skills up to date. Since no beach is like the next, you have to adapt your training. Set aside a width of beach, say 50 to 100 meters, and put lifeguards near each end.


Many people go to a local branch of the national organisations to get their first aid and CPR certification. Some move on to get the lifeguard certification. There are a variety of "specialist modules" that can be added to the basic qualification, like Radio Operator, Rescue Surf Skills, Paddle Craft Rescue, Personal Water Craft Training, Rescue Boat (Crew), Rescue Boat (Helm), AED and CPR Oxygen Administration.

In the United States are several nationally recognised organisations that certify lifeguards, like the American Red Cross (ARC) and its Lifeguard Training Program, the YMCA, Starfish Aquatics Institute (StarGuard), the City of Los Angeles, the Boy Scouts of America, and National Aquatic Safety Company (NASCO). In Britain, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) provides well-funded beach lifeguards. The Surf Life Saving Association (GB) provides training courses.

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