While some people assume that a pool lifeguard essentially shows up for work and does nothing except assist swimmers who are in distress, the fact is that lifeguard jobs involve a number of tasks, many that the general public never sees. While the exact scope of responsibilities assigned to a pool lifeguard will vary somewhat from one job to another, there are several duties that are likely to be involved in any lifeguard position.
A primary focus of every pool lifeguard is the safety of every person using the pool during his or her shift. From this perspective, this means that the lifeguard functions as the authority figure around the pool, making sure that the rules and regulations that apply to using the facilities are observed. Often, the lifeguard has the authority to eject someone from the pool if their behavior becomes unruly and is a threat to the safety of everyone else at the pool.
The pool lifeguard is also often called upon to teach basic pool safety. This can involve everything from working with children to make sure they know how to use flotation devices properly to reminding people to not run along the edge of the pool. In some settings, the lifeguard may teach pool safety in a classroom setting, going over such basics as resuscitation techniques, the rudiments of first aid, or even providing information about avoiding sunburn.
Behind the scenes, a pool lifeguard is often involved in the maintenance of the pool itself. This means making sure the water is filtering properly, and routinely testing the chlorine levels of the water to make sure they are at proper levels. A lifeguard may also be responsible for draining and cleaning the pool from time to time, as well as inspecting any lounges or other amenities located at the poolside. At times, these duties are carried out in tandem with other employees; however, at smaller facilities, the lifeguard may handle these tasks on his or her own.
A pool lifeguard is also often responsible for keeping accurate records of pool usage. This is especially true at public pools where people pay a small fee to enjoy the pool. The lifeguard may actually take up the money, keep the accounting records, and deliver the day's receipts to his or her employer at the end of the day.
It is not unusual for the lifeguard to be responsible for taking care of his or her gear. That means laundering lifeguard swimsuits and shirts, examining and repairing the lifeguard chairs positioned near the pool, and making sure first aid kits are fully stocked at all times. Often, these tasks are accomplished during hours when the pool is closed, or when another lifeguard is actively overseeing the pool.
In order to function as a pool lifeguard, an applicant must apply for and secure lifeguard certification. He or she will also be trained in basic lifesaving techniques, including the administration of first aid. This helps to ensure that the individual assigned to the role of pool lifeguard can successfully handle the core responsibility of all lifeguards – keeping people safe.