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A lifeguard shortage could shut down a third of US public pools this summer

No shirt, no shoes, no lifeguards?

This summer, families looking for an open community pool or a patrolled public beach might struggle due to the statewide shortage of lifeguards.

It could even prevent about a third of the nation’s 309,000 pools from opening, according to the American Lifeguard Association. It also allowed fewer manned lifeguard towers to emerge on recreational beaches.

“Since Lifeguards began, we’ve struggled to fill the ranks because it’s difficult to get that job,” said Wyatt Werneth, the association’s national spokesman.

It requires very rigorous physical training, first aid and trauma training, and many careful skills, such as B. watching the water.

City officials in Overland Park, Kansas, have been forced to close two of their five outdoor pools due to staff shortages.

“Our staff have worked incredibly hard throughout the winter and spring to hire, train, certify, board and schedule more than 150 lifeguards to safely man the outdoor pools,” said city spokeswoman Meg Ralph.

The shortage is partly due to the pandemic and the cancellation of J-1 exchange work visas.

“We’ll get through this,” Werth said. “As first responders, lifeguards are very resourceful. Even in the past when we had lifeguard shortages, we are finding ways to educate and protect the public, which is our top priority.”

An empty lifeguard chair is seen on the beach at Coney Island during a lifeguard shortage.
An empty lifeguard chair is seen on the beach at Coney Island during a lifeguard shortage.
Paul Martinka

It’s not just about having fun in the sun

Aside from being super affordable, Felicia Bergan especially likes her pool in Grain Valley, Missouri because it’s a nearby place for her large family to take swimming lessons.

In cities with only one community pool, the city-funded resource with staff is critical.

Bergan’s 11-year-old has been able to swim for a few years now. However, her two youngest children generally cannot overcome their fear of water.

“A lifeguard shortage would definitely worry me enough to change some of my behaviors,” she said. “As a parent who can’t swim at all, having a lifeguard near each part of the pool gives me peace of mind that there is someone nearby who can help my child if they are in danger.”

Drowning can happen in seconds and is often silent. It can happen to anyone whenever there is access to water. There are an estimated 4,000 accidental drownings in the United States each year — an average of 11 drownings a day, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you’re lucky enough to take a summer trip to an open pool or staffed beach, Werth would like to remind everyone to swim near a lifeguard at all times, check on nearby weather conditions, and learn to swim.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/26/lifeguard-shortage-could-shutter-a-third-of-us-public-pools-this-summer/ A lifeguard shortage could shut down a third of US public pools this summer

JACLYN DIAZ

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