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How Does The World Health Organization Describe Lifeguards?

Updated: Aug 16


Lifeguards are a vital part of any recreational water setting, and their presence can minimize potential risks. In other words, if you want to swim in a pool or attend a beach party, you'd better ensure there's a lifeguard on duty. But what does that mean for you as a swimmer? And what should you do if something goes wrong while you're in the water? Well, you'd be surprised to know that the World Health Organization has more to say about it. Continue reading to find out.


1) Lifeguard Qualifications

According to WHO, lifeguards should have "appropriate training" and "appropriate current qualifications" to assist those in need. Lifeguards are expected to be competent in swimming and life-saving methods, as well as first aid.


Requalification is also essential for lifeguards to perform duties professionally. All lifeguards should be up-to-date on training, first aid, and CPR techniques.


2) Observation Points

The WHO knows lifeguarding is serious business! This is why it emphasizes having a clear observation point when on duty. The lifeguard can scan the area for potential dangers and emergencies from this vantage point.


The WHO also recommends having a secondary observation point in an emergency. This will give the lifeguard a better view of what is happening and help with faster response times.


3) Lifeguarding Equipment

The WHO states that lifeguards should be equipped to complete their job. This may include using a whistle, buoyant devices such as an inflatable ring or airbag, and rescue boards for hard-to-reach areas.


Other examples of essential lifesaving equipment are:


· Re-breather mask

· Rescue tube with a tow line and handle

· A buoyant heaving line for longer distances of up to 100 meters


4) Lifeguard Policies

Lifeguard organizations should have a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to follow. These SOPs should include:


· Responding to emergencies

· Lifeguard shifts and responsibilities

· The use of the equipment and what types of situations each piece of equipment is designed for. This also includes how long it may take to replace or refill the pieces of equipment after use.

· Details on their training and testing process and requirements

· Any additional information would help provide guidelines for making decisions regarding water safety issues such as pool size, depth, etc.


5) Fitness

The final qualification that the WHO lists for lifeguards is physical fitness. Lifeguards need to swim long distances quickly, carry people out of the water and perform rescues safely and efficiently. Being physically fit allows them to do all of this without becoming exhausted or injuring themselves.


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