Tips on how to have fun and stay safe in the pool, from a certified lifeguard


Via Mark Pazolli

The pools are a great place to relax and cool down, so here are some tips to have the safest and most enjoyable experience with your family and friends.

With summer coming up, many of us will be in pools, swimming the heat away. But you probably don’t want to drown and, as a certified lifeguard, I don’t want to have to save you. Water is deadly when there is an emergency and is one of the primary killers in the summer. Here are some tips to stay safe in the water and have fun! 

Tip #1: Know your limits. Knowing your limits is probably the best thing you can do to stay safe. If you aren’t comfortable with the deep ends of the pools, don’t go there. The easiest way to drown is often in the deep end, where swimmers can’t touch their feet to the ground. 

Tip #2: Follow the rules. The rules set out by lifeguards and organizers might seem arbitrary, but they make it safer for yourself and others — and prevent swimmers from getting yelled at in front of their friends. Don’t try to impress those around you and then get hurt. It’s easy to drown and doing dangerous activities like diving in the shallow end can lead to severe injuries.

Tip #3: Be aware of your surroundings. This will allow you to move freely in the water without bumping into or hurting anyone else. If someone jumps in on top of another person, it can cause serious issues, so make sure to look before you jump. 

Tip #4: If you feel something come up, get out of the water. If you feel cramping, pain, or water in your lungs, get out of the water and go to the lifeguard station, or go to the shallow end and wait it out. You could have a medical emergency in the water and drown, so it’s best to get out. 

Tip #5: Take advantage of heat waves when planning swimming trips. Any temperature above 95ºF is considered dangerous, so public cooling centers — including free community pools — are open. Swimming and staying in the pool can help people cool down, so I recommend using this to your advantage.

Tip #6: Don’t wrestle. Putting your friend’s head under the water or choking them may seem fun, but they could inhale water, potentially causing sickness or even drowning. 

Tip #7: Don’t distract lifeguards. Asking them for something is fine but don’t try to talk to them. Their job is to scan the pool and watch for potential emergencies — by distracting them, their attention is no longer focused on the safety of poolgoers. You can ask them to call another lifeguard out if needed. 

Tip #8: Make sure to bring supplies. Bring plenty of water and other hydrating liquids —  dehydration can cause severe conditions if not treated properly. Also, bring towels and goggles to ensure a fun and comfortable experience.

Tip #9: Don’t do challenges. Challenges such as how long you can hold your breath or going as deep as you can seems fun and innocent, but the second you go too deep and can’t breathe, you could drown. 

Tip #10: When there is an emergency in the pool, get out. This is because it gives lifeguards the space they need to rescue someone. You will know this when they tell you to get out. So please, get out.