Hit the Breaks: How to Best Spend Your Break as a Lifeguard

Avoiding physical and mental fatigue is one of the many reasons why lifeguards should be taking frequent breaks throughout the day. According to the American Red Cross Lifeguard Manual, “lifeguards should take a break at least once an hour.” This could mean setting up a rotation system that keeps lifeguards bouncing around different stations, or it could mean mandatory snack breaks. However you choose, whether as a lifeguard or as a director, the important piece is that lifeguards have downtime. This enhances performance, alertness, and productivity.

Rotation Station

Before your seat gets too warm, consider developing a rotation system so that lifeguards can mix up where they are surveilling. According to Red Cross, “in one system of surveillance, a lifeguard might spend 20 or 30 minutes at one station, rotate to another station for 20 or 30 minutes and then take a 20 or 30 minute break.” Another option is one where “a lifeguard might spend 45 minutes at one stand, take a break for 15 minutes and then go to another stand.”

This takes planning and organizing, so it’s important that an aquatic director or manager is involved in orchestrating the rotation. All lifeguards need to be informed ahead of time. Otherwise, a mishap in the schedule could lead to an unattended area on the beach.

Down Time

When you’re able to rest, use this time to hydrate, eat, and allow your body the well deserved break it needs. It’s advised you spend your break time out of the sun — consider sitting in the shade or heading to a bench in a covered area.

It’s easy to underestimate how much food or water your body needs when your day is spent in the hot sun. Your dehydration starts way before you actually feel thirsty, so be sure to have frequent check-ins with your body.

Keep in mind — there’s still room for fun on your breaks. It helps to have the beach as a backdrop for relaxation and reprieve during your busy days.


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