Find the Right Lifeguard Station
The perception of lifeguards and their performance has evolved over the years. Extensive research has been performed to determine what tools can improve the lifeguard's job. Most people are aware that it is important to keep these critical personnel engaged and active at the water's edge. Tom Griffiths has done extensive research in this area and has developed a Five-minute Scanning Strategy, which aided in the development of lifeguard stations that provide alternatives. Finding the right lifeguard station can help ensure they are able to do their jobs.
Q: We want to make sure we're providing the most up-to-date stations for our lifeguards. What should we know?
A: Newer generation guard stations have been developed based on research in safety and accident prevention to help make your lifeguards more effective. Research shows that it is much better for lifeguards to stand and walk from time to time than to sit for long periods. By remaining more active, lifeguards stay more alert and attentive.
Guard stations should have platforms that allow lifeguards to sit and stand, continually changing their position. Stations should be positioned close to the pool's edge, allowing the lifeguard easier access to both the station and the water's edge. When they are closer to the water, lifeguards will also be able to communicate more easily with swimmers.
Two sides of the station should be accessible by steps, either side to side or front to back, which makes it easier to provide uninterrupted coverage of the pool during shift changes. Widely spaced steps make for safer exit and quicker response during emergencies.
If your facility is outdoors, you might also want to look for stations that can be outfitted with an umbrella to provide shade and protect lifeguards from the sun's dangerous UV rays.
Q: We don't have a lot of space for lifeguard stations. Is there an option that doesn't take a lot of deck space?
A: You can find a guard station that features a minimal footprint, taking up less space on your deck. At the same time, the front edge of the guard station is wider, providing plenty of visibility and space for guards to move. The deck is wide enough to accommodate two lifeguards, providing increased coverage of the water.
The station can be positioned close to the pool edge and can accommodate most pool gutter profiles, including zero-depth entry.
Q: We have a lake with beach access for swimmers, and we provide a wide range of programming there. We'd like a guard chair that can easily be moved on our sandy beach from one area to another.
A: In a lakefront or beach setting, vigilance is critical as the water doesn't feature the clarity of a pool that allows lifeguards to see what's happening beneath the surface. An elevated station will improve visibility.
You can find a portable lifeguard station that easily tips and rolls from one location to another. Designed to work on most terrains, these stations can easily adapt indoors, outdoors, by the pool, at a waterpark or on the sand.
Look for pneumatic wheels designed to travel over most terrains. Wheels also should be lockable or removable to prevent vandalism.
In all situations, look for wide steps with a non-skid surface to help ensure lifeguards can react to problems quickly.