NJ lifeguard shortage: How to stay safe when there’s no guard
Ten people have drowned in the past 10 days, leaving New Jerseyans to wonder if any body of water is safe to enter these days.
This is the largest drowning epidemic we have seen in ages and one of the many reasons it's happening is the lack of lifeguards— not only in New Jersey, but nationwide.
While most of our swimming spots have lifeguards present, there simply aren’t enough employees to be covering each and every area of water that needs watching. Several of these deaths have been in locations where lifeguards were on duty, but not at the correct pool or building. It is nearly impossible for one person to be responsible for more than one area of water, which is where the issue has stemmed from.
Due to COVID, many people have been unable to finish or even begin lifeguard training, which has set back lifeguard employment significantly. And, in many cases, those with lifeguard certifications are, unfortunately, looking for higher-paying jobs. That search for higher-income has also contributed to what now has become a serious problem.
Because there is no sight of this ending or anything specifically getting better, the American Red Cross has released a set of guidelines to ensure better safety near water this summer. This by no means will resolve the issue, but here are their suggestions.
- Provide constant supervision for children and non-swimmers
- Learn to swim — it's unclear if all the victims in recent days knew how to swim and how well
- Look for lifeguards
- Swim with a friend who stays close
- For non-experienced swimmers, wear a life jacket
- Learn CPR
I know much of this seems very obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t believe it could ever happen to them or anyone in their family.
If you are heading to the beach, lake or the public pool and are unsure of the lifeguard situation, make sure that you’re taking as many precautions as possible. And here’s to a safe and fun Jersey Shore summer!
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.
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