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Staying Alert – Lifeguarding And Scanning your Area

1. Establish Your Zone

Each lifeguard has a zone. First, establish what your zone is. Be clear on it. Weather it is the entire body of water, or partial. Make sure you discuss with other lifeguards or management which area is your zone. If you’re the only one guarding, then your zone is all of the area the patrons occupy. All lifeguards are to know their zone before they go on duty.

2. Establish Your Scanning pattern

We will talk about how to use your scanning pattern later, down below. First thing we do, is establish it here. What is your scanning pattern? Scanning is how you choose to scan the water. You have 2 choices to scan the water.

a) Scan Side To Side

Scan from side to side. From all the way to the left of your zone, to all the way to the right of your zone. Ones at the right side, you then scan back to the left. When first starting, start at the top of your zone. Keep scanning from side to side until you reach the bottom of your zone. Start from the top. Scan from side to side. Eyes going in a straight line, from side to side. Untill you reach the bottom of your zone.

b) Scan Top and Down

Scan top and down. From all the way at the top of your zone, scan to all the way down of your zone. Once at the bottom, you then scan back to the top. When first starting, start at the left of your zone. Keep scanning from from top to bottom, working your way to the other side of your zone (right side). Start from the left. Scan from top to bottom. Eyes going in a straight line, from top to bottom. Untill you reach the right side of your zone.

Some more tips on Scanning:

Now, remember, we haven’t even set foot on duty, yet. Before you even go on duty, know what zone you have. And know the scanning styles to do.

What is scanning exactly: Scanning is looking for patrons on the water that may indicate distress or drowning.

Now, remember, we haven’t even set foot on duty, yet. Before you even go on duty, know what zone you have. And know the scanning styles to do.

Even if you are not 100% sure that a someone may be in danger, investigate anyway. Go the safe route, always.

Scanning your entire zone should take no more than 10 seconds. Every 10 seconds, you are scanning your entire zone.

1. Establish Your Zone

a) Before you go on duty, know your zone that you will be guarding.

b) Before you go on duty, know the 2 scanning styles.

c) While you are on duty, First thing you do, is look at the bottom and under the water.

d) Then pick a scanning style. And keep alternating. From looking at the bottom or underneath the water and scanning the surface. So bottom, then scan the surface of your entire zone. Bottom then surface. And so on.

e) While you are repeating step d throughout your duty, move positions every 5 minutes. Meaning after 5 minutes, instead of sitting down, stand up and scan. So every 5 minutes change your body. Also, every 5 minutes, change your scanning style. Meaning instead of scanning up and down, scan from side to side. And vice versa. This will help you to stay alert.

4. More lifeguarding Tips

Another strategy in keeping your mind active and focused is to think about which patrons in your zone may be high risk, and visually make contact with those patrons and places during your scan. Some of these high risk people may include children. After you have made contact (eye contact), rehearse a rescue in your mind. Mentally prepare for the save for that individual.

Some places have it so that lifeguards can signal to each other that their zone is ok. Common signals to indicate that their zone is ok, is the thumbs up, or a raised rescue tube, or a short whistle blast. This is done every 5 minutes.

Our last time, your facility should have a rotating system. So that, if there is more than 1 of you, you are rotating. Someone comes over after a period of time, say (30 minutes) and takes your position and zone over. Then you move on to the next station, or possibly off for 30 minutes.

Importance of Preventing Rescues

It’s important to remember that the most important duty of a lifeguard isn’t necessarily rescuing victims, the most important duty of a lifeguard is PREVENTING rescues from even happening. A good day of lifeguarding is 5 rescues 20 preventative actions However, a GREAT day of lifeguarding is 0 rescues and 100 preventatives! There is a 0% chance of a drowning when a rescue is PREVENTED from even happening. For example, when a diligent lifeguard notices a young child about to enter an ocean with potentially dangerous waves, he/she will run and stop the child from even touching the water. Even though it is “glamorous” for a lifeguard to have many rescues, it is in the best interest of both the public AND the lifeguard to prevent rescues. There is no worse feeling for a lifeguard to know that he/she could have done something to prevent a drowning.
-Tyler H

Four Basic Skills of All Lifeguards:

1) Physical fitness is a foundation of a successful and effective lifeguard. Although by no means do you have to be an Olympic Swimmer, you must be able to swim at a reasonable speed for lengthy periods of time. Along with sturdy swimming skills, you must be really relaxed in the water and be able to tread water for extended periods of time. You must also have enough energy to protect, tow, and sustain victims for brief to moderate amounts of time

2) Concentration and persistence in a distracting and Draining Environment. We’ve all looked at it; the beach that is jam-packed with hundreds of people doing all sorts of ‘interesting’ activities, all sporting bikinis and board shorts. The sun heats the beach to a nap-inducing temperature of 90F and there’s a continual sea breeze in the air. In a setting like this, it’s not difficult to allow your eyes take it easy and join the masses that are indiscriminately ‘people watching’ at the beach. Not for lifeguards. Despite all these distractions, it is paramount that lifeguards remain acute and attentive in their tasks. It can take LESS than a minute for a drowning to happen, so it’s critical to possess the power to focus on the job at hand.

3) Cool under tension and difficulty; the power to stay calm and comfortable in a hectic environment is a MUST for lifeguards. One moment in time you’re habitually scanning the pool and instructing little Johnny not to run, the next second you take a look across the pool deck and you witness an older man quickly grab his chest and fall unconscious to the ground. Can you take action adequately and keep cool in this ‘life or death’ predicament? Or will you break under the strain?

4) Communication skills as a lifeguard, the general population anticipates a lot from you. Whether someone would like to know the water temps or somebody is complaining about a child kicking sand in their face, you have to talk with the public in a proficient and hospitable manner. As your experience as a lifeguard increases, your capability to take care of the public’s requests and disputes will develop. It is important to keep a positive attitude and stay focused on the larger task at hand, especially when an upset beach goer is attempting to disturb from your duty with his/her complaints.
-Tyler H.

Thank you, Stay strong, alert, and safe

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