Hot Springs Pool July 7 2009 014

The Art of Preventative Lifeguarding

Lifeguarding is one of those jobs that is hard to not bring home after you punch out. In our training we learn to anticipate risky behavior so we can prevent accidents from occurring. This is the primary objective of any lifeguard at any facility. When sitting in the chair, high above the water, lifeguards can effectively scan the pool for potential hazards. However, lifeguards at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool & Fitness Center are trained to use much more than just their eyes to keep you and your family safe.

One of the best tools a lifeguard has is their hearing. From an elevated position a lifeguard can see, but also hear what is going on within their predetermined scanning zone. We look and listen for obvious signs of distress, or unsafe behaviors. Lifeguards spend a lot of time asking patrons to please refrain from running on the pool deck. This is generally noticed just from hearing bare feet slap against the wet pool deck. An attentive lifeguard won’t have to see the person running. Running on the pool deck is a dangerous activity that can easily lead to a head, neck, or spinal injury. This is just one example of how a lifeguard must use their senses to keep the facility safe. Another major auditory cue would be the sound of someone coughing up water. This is an immediate attention grabber for any lifeguard. Patrons rarely noticed how attentive lifeguards are to these cues. However, it is essential that our guards are receptive to these auditory cues to keep our community safe.

These safety sensitive concerns travel with the lifeguard throughout their guarding careers, even when they are not working. I often find myself cringing when I see kids running on wet slippery surfaces outside of work, and identifying children based on their ability to swim in certain sections, and or the need to take a swim test. All facilities are different, but here at the Ouray Hot Springs we look for kids that are potentially 6 and under, or 12 and under. We pay special attention to these age groups because they are most likely to need special attention from parents or guards to ensure safety. Children 12 and under must take a swim test and have a wrist band proving they passed before they can play on the obstacle course. Children 6 and under must remain within arm’s reach of a supervising adult (13 or older) at all times.   While walking down Main Street I see kids with swim test bands on. I find myself trying to guess ages and refine my ability to keep the Ouray Community safe.

Lifeguards go through extensive training on how to make saves and provide basic life support. However, all good lifeguards will you that they never want to use their skills. An attentive lifeguard can effectively prevent accidents from happening but when things do go wrong, we are here to help.


Written By: Josh Vincent

Aquatics Coordinator