As Summer Arrives Pools Around The Country Closed Due To Lifeguard Shortage

On the first official day of summer, many public swimming pools across the country are closed because there aren’t enough lifeguards. The American Lifeguard Association estimates that the shortage impacts about one-third of pools, leaving kids and adults struggling to find a place to stay cool during the summer heat.

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the main drivers of the shortage. During the pandemic, many states and municipalities were forced to cancel lifeguard training and certification programs. That has resulted in fewer new lifeguards and many veteran lifeguards who are unable to work because they could not get recertified.

Another issue is that lifeguards tend to earn less than their peers working other summer jobs. Lindsay Cates, Manager of Communications and Strategy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that many local pools can’t afford to pay $15 an hour, which is how much new workers at Six Flags Fiesta Texas will make. Meanwhile, SeaWorld San Antonio is offering a $1,000 bonus for lifeguards at its water park.

“But local pools, carnivals, and smaller parks can’t keep up. Labor shortages caused a local carnival in Illinois to be postponed this summer. Similarly, beach town boardwalks and amusement destinations are full of “Help Wanted” signs, as small, independent businesses struggle to find and hire the workers they need,” Cates explained.

Bernard J. Fisher II, director of health and safety with the American Lifeguard Association, told the Associated Press that the problem is going to get worse and that it could impact up to 50% of the pools by the end of summer when high school and college students return to school.

Fisher said he is concerned that the shortage will result in more drownings as people go swimming in unsupervised pools or find other, more dangerous bodies of water to swim in.

“It is a disaster,” Fisher said.

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