American Lifeguard Managers Should
The following is part of a letter that I mailed to the Mayor of Flagler Beach on 21 July 2014, and various other people. The Mayor kindly phoned me within minutes of receiving my letter, and said that they are working to implement some of these changes:
Yesterday my young son and I were swimming at Flagler Beach. Being an Australian by birth, who understands that lifeguards are there to save your life, we naturally swam in front of the lifeguard. However, by doing this, we nearly got hit on the head by surfboards three times. There was a large group of them, right in front of the lifeguard. Since a hit on the head by a surfboard can kill or brain damage someone, as well as easily cause them to go unconscious and drown, I was reminded of the importance to get Flagler Beach to improve the way you utilize your lifeguards.
I ask that you:
1) Create, with flags, at least one zone on the beach where there is a lifeguard always on duty, up to half an hour before sundown. Currently they leave at 5pm when there are still hundreds of people and children on the beach. (I suggest that this would be south of the pier, as the ground and water there seems to be safer than directly north of the pier). What is the use of having lifeguards if they are not around when many people are swimming?
2) Extend the dates for this zone before and after the current lifeguard dates. Currently there are many times when the water is warm enough to draw many people, and children, in to swim, and there is no one there to protect them. Again, what is the use of having lifeguards if they are not around when many people are swimming?
3) Exclude all surfers from this zone.
4) Tell all lifeguards that they are not to use their iphones while on duty. It is not uncommon to see them tapping on their iphones. It takes only a second for a child to step in an unseen hole and go under the waves. Lifeguards should have a mobile phone for emergencies, but no smart phones.
5) Erect a sign educating people that they should “swim between the flags” to make it easier for the lifeguards to see them, and to know that they will be safe from surfboards.
This is the system employed on all beaches in Australia, where they are famous for their safety. Please see attached photos.
Bondi Beach, Australia – Swim Between the Flags
The suggestions in this letter could be fixed within a few hours. Finances is not an issue, because you already employ many lifeguards strung out for miles along the beach. In fact, they are so far apart that it is hard to see how they would get to someone in time if someone drowned in the middle area between two lifeguards.
Simply reduce the number of lifeguards used at one time, and extend the dates and hours in just one area, where all parents can know that their children will be watched by a lifeguard and free of danger from surfboards.
In fact, since many adults cannot swim, this will be saving adult lives as well.
138 Palm Coast Pkwy NE #331
Palm Coast, FL 32137