1 minute readHealth & Safety

How to Save a Life

Are you looking for a summer job? One that will be fun, meaningful, rewarding, and always in high demand? One that will put you in a position to actually save lives?

If so, consider becoming a lifeguard!

Lifeguards are responsible for the safety and rescue of people in a defined body of water, such as a swimming pool or a swimming area in a lake, as well as in the area immediately surrounding the body of water (the deck around a swimming pool or the beach next to a lake). Taking a page from the mission statement of the American Red Cross, the ultimate goal of a lifeguard is to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to (water-related) emergencies”.

Available to individuals 15 and older*, American Red Cross lifeguard training is – as it should be, considering lifeguards are literally guarding the lives of the children and adults at their swimming venue – extensive and comprehensive. Class participants are trained in CPR/AED, First Aid, surveillance and rescue skills, and risk management through videos, group discussions, and hands-on practice both in and out of the swimming pool. Participants are also required to pass three separate swimming class challenges, as only strong swimmers are eligible to become lifeguards.

My sister became a lifeguard the MINUTE she turned 16. She began working as a lifeguard one month later, and now, 14 years later, she still lifeguards and teaches swimming lessons every summer. (She’s an elementary school teacher, which allows her to spend her summers at the pool.) She’s gone on to become an American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor, Water Safety Instructor, and Instructor Trainer, and has made a life and a living out of teaching children how to swim and keeping both children and adults safe when they enjoy time in the water.

So if spending the summer helping people prevent, prepare for, and respond to water-related emergencies sounds like your cup of tea, consider becoming certified as an American Red Cross lifeguard and pursing a job at your swimming pool or beach.

To find lifeguarding classes, swim lessons, or water safety instructor courses in your area, contact your local aquatic facility and ask them about their Red Cross training courses OR contact your local Red Cross Aquatics Representative.

*Tweens and teens between the ages of nine and 15 can train to become junior lifeguards, a position that allows them to learn from and work with experienced lifeguards in preparation for eventually receiving their lifeguard certification.