What are the Different Types of Lifeguard Gear?

Kathy R

Lifeguards are individuals that patrol swimming pools and beaches, helping swimmers who are in need of rescue. To do his or her job, the lifeguard has to have certain lifeguard gear on hand to help save lives. This gear can include flotation devices, transport devices and medical equipment. In addition, he or she must have a comfortable swim suit.

A tube of antibiotic ointment is an important lifeguard accessory.
A tube of antibiotic ointment is an important lifeguard accessory.

The lifeguard uses flotation devices to buoy individuals who are unable to come out of the water on their own. One common piece of lifeguard gear is the rescue tube, which is thin, straight piece of foam covered in vinyl with a long strap attached to it. The lifeguard wraps the tube around the individual and secures the strap to the opposite end of it so it forms a ring around the person’s waist. The lifeguard can then tow a person in to safety by holding the device while swimming.

Lifeguards may have access to oxygen equipment for use during the administration of CPR.
Lifeguards may have access to oxygen equipment for use during the administration of CPR.

Another flotation device is the ring buoy, because it is typically a circle of foam with a length of rope attached to it. This type of buoy is also known as a throw, since the lifeguard often tosses it to a person in trouble. The person in need may be instructed to grab hold of it or it may be placed around the body, so that the lifeguard can pull on the rope and help the person out of the water.

Lifeguard gear also includes transport devices to help lifeguards move injured people, once they are out of the water. Many gear kits include a spine board, which is a plastic board about the same length and width as the average adult’s body. Lifeguards lift injured people and strap them onto these boards so that they can move them from the beach or pool area without aggravating their injuries. Two or more lifeguards are required to lift the board, using handles located on either side of it.

Another transport tool common in lifeguard gear is the head immobilizer, which is important in cases where a spinal cord injury is suspected. This piece of equipment allows the lifeguard to carefully place the injured person’s neck and head between two foam blocks. Straps attached to the blocks are then secured around the top and bottom of the head, usually around forehead and chin. This prevents head movement so that an injury is not made worse by movement, such as during transport.

Since lifeguards must often tend to injured people until emergency medical personnel arrive, they usually have basic medical supplies on hand. These supplies are likely to include a first aid kit, with basic bandages and wound ointments. Some lifeguards also have defibrillators, CPR face shields and oxygen equipment.

Most lifeguards have a whistle or a megaphone. He or she needs these tools to get swimmers’ attention quickly, especially when making important safety announcements. A high chair and a beach umbrella are also frequently part of a lifeguard's equipment, to allow for better viewing of the patrol area.

Lifeguard accessories may include whistles.
Lifeguard accessories may include whistles.

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