Do Lifeguards Need Rescue Tubes?

There’s a common misconception that lifeguards can do it all. A lot of people think that being a lifeguard means you’re an aquatic superhero—completely invincible and undeterred by nature’s surprises. While lifeguards are impressive, strong, and skillful, they do face challenges every now and then. So when you see them with a rescue tube, it’s because they really need it.

What is a rescue tube?

A rescue tube, sometimes known as a rescue buoy, is a piece of equipment used to make a rescue quicker and more efficient. It’s a flotation device that is given to a drowning victim so that he or she can quickly grab onto it for a reprieve.

How long have rescue tubes been around?

Rescue tubes were first invented in 1935 by a man named Pete Peterson. He was a surfer and lifeguard in California who saw a need for flotation devices that would aid lifeguards with victims of drowning. His rescue tube has evolved and improved throughout the years, but we can give him credit for coming up with the original idea.

How do you use a rescue tube?

Rescue tubes come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but the most standard size is between 40 and 60 inches in length. Most rescue tubes come with a towline and shoulder strap so that lifeguards can easily take them off and put them back on—this comes in handy for speedy rescues.

To answer the big question, “Do lifeguards really need rescue tubes?” the answer is YES. Lifeguards absolutely need rescue tubes, along with other necessary equipment such as whistles and megaphones to make rescues safer and faster.

To be sure that you are not missing out on any of our lifeguard videos & stories, please subscribe to our newsletter here.

For videos, articles, & events about lifeguarding related industry topics, visit www.lifeguardtv.com

One Comment

  1. Most definitely necessary! I’m surprised anyone would ask that question, but I’ve always wondered what lifeguarding must have been like before rescue tubes became standard issue equipment.

    A rescue “buoy” (or often called a “can”) is actually quite different from a rescue tube. Cans are shaped somewhat like nun buoys with several handles on them for distressed swimmers to grab onto. They’re usually used by beach patrol guards and function somewhat like a kickboard until the victim is reached. Rescue tubes are longer and flexible to accommodate reaching and throwing rescues in swimming pools. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a tube being used by beach patrol guards although we do use them for water front guarding at camp.