Tips for Lifeguards: How to Handle Disruptive Pool Guests
Posted in Aquatic Articles, on December 28, 2022
One of the core responsibilities of a lifeguard is to maintain good public relations, in addition to providing a safe environment for all patrons. There are situations in which lifeguards will need to enforce the rules posted by the facility. Here are some examples:
Such as rough play, pushing into or under the water, throwing sand, and pressuring a weak swimming to go deeper than what they are comfortable with.
This includes breath holding contests, running on the pool deck, not wearing a PFD in deep water when required, and diving in the shallow end.
Disturbing Other Guests or Staff
Examples include pushing or shoving, verbal abuse, distracting the lifeguards, and playing with rescue equipment.
This could take the form of damaging rescue equipment, removing signs, stealing or throwing other personal property into the water.
In such situations, it is important to remember these key factors:
- Your Demeanor Matters
It is important to come from a place of care when enforcing a rule, instead of annoyance. Always keep “Your Lifeguard Cares” as the underlying theme of your actions and words towards the public. Good public relations results in positive patron attitudes and behavior. Open body language, confidence and a friendly voice go a long way.
- Consistency is Key
We always want to avoid confusion regarding the rules. It is important for all lifeguards to be on the same page regarding rule enforcement, and to enforce the same rules for everyone at the facility. Patrons appreciate lifeguards when a professional and consistent approach is used.
- Offer Alternatives
Do not see rule breaking as a chance for discipline, instead as a way to reinforce safer behavior and offer education. This chance for education is important especially for young children to see you as a role model instead of someone to avoid. For example, a safe alternative to horseplay would be playing with the toys provided by the facility.
- Choose Appropriate Communication for the Individual
Depending on the age and demeanor of the patron, you may want to adjust your tone and manner of communication. For instance, a preschool child is unable to read warning signs or rules so it is important to clarify these with their parent. Young children and some adults may not remember or understand simple explanations, ensure you take this into account if you see repetitive rule breaking.
Here is a general step-by-step guide on how to handle disruptive patrons.
Ensuring you have coverage for your zone while lifeguarding, approach the patron(s) and address the rule being broken, or the risk created by their behavior. Keep a positive attitude, while being firm and specific when explaining and/or correcting the behavior- when doing this, try to provide alternatives for them.
Educate the patron on the consequences of not following the rules of the pool.
If cooperation is not forthcoming, refer the patron to the head lifeguard or supervisor. The head lifeguard or supervisor should also approach the patron with the same friendly but firm manner.
If the patron is still uncooperative, the head lifeguard can ask the patron to leave the facility.
If absolutely necessary, police can be called in extreme scenarios. Involving the police should be used as a last resort for minor problems.
Being able to effectively deal with the public is an important role of a lifeguard and supports the continued operation of your facility. Lifeguarding Academy offers both Standard First Aid and National Lifeguard - Pool recertifications to support your journey lifeguarding! Find a course and register here.