Swimmers should get ready for another summer short on lifeguards

Lifeguard shortages might cause beach closures and reduced public pool hours this summer.

The backdrop: Many communities face shortages of lifeguards, leading to beach closures and reduced public pool hours in previous years.
* The issue has been worsening for years due to poor pay and waning interest, with the pandemic exacerbating the situation.

Why it matters: According to the CDC, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages 5-14, primarily in pools, lakes, rivers, or oceans.

Challenges: The industry relied on people from Eastern Europe, coming to the U.S. on J-1 visas to work as lifeguards, but visa issuances were put on pause during the pandemic.
* Visas are slowly returning, but the pipeline hasn’t fully recovered yet.

Advice for keeping safe: Wyatt Werneth, spokesperson for the American Lifeguard Association, suggests checking if a beach or pool has a lifeguard, assigning a “water watcher” for your group, and ensuring non-swimmers wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets.

View original article on NPR

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