“Lifeguard On Duty” Doesn’t Mean It’s Safe

When you go to a pool at a country club or a local recreation center or a city pool, you may see that lifeguard and suddenly, your mind is at ease. You think you can relax and stop worrying about your children and other people’s children drowning. But is that wise? Statistics show that children drown in the presence of lifeguards all the time, so in many ways, seeing a “Lifeguard On Duty” sign can give people a false sense of security.

CBS previously published an article about lifeguards and the news source said the “statistics are sobering.” On average, said CBS, “10 people a day die from unintentional drowning.” And of those, over 5 of the drowning deaths involve children age 14 or younger. Some of those fatalities involved children drowning in pools with lifeguards on duty.

A Boy Dies at Summer Camp

One of the real-life children who died in front of lifeguards was a boy named Yoni. Yoni was only four-years-old when he went to summer camp. “I remember when I left him in the morning. He said, ‘Mommy, I’m so happy. Bye bye. We’ll see you later,’” said Anat Gottesman, Yoni’s mother. But that was the last time his mother would see him alive.

It was Yoni’s first day at summer camp and he died in a drowning accident and the incident was all caught on tape. In the surveillance video, Yoni was at the edge of the pool, struggling to swim. Eventually, his body was floating face-down in the water with two lifeguards just feet away from the child’s lifeless body. Eight minutes went by before anyone noticed Yoni.

Gerry Dworkin, a consultant for a private safety organization called Lifesaving Resources Inc., said they see time and time again where lifeguards fail to recognize a problem and intervene appropriately. Dworkin said they estimate there are 100 plus drownings every year that occur at guarded facilities.

Yoni’s Parents Sue the Camp

Yoni’s parents wound up suing the camp where their son died and they succeeded. Since their son’s death, they have focused their attention on raising awareness about pool safety. Lifeguards we learned, should NOT be texting while on duty. They shouldn’t be engaging in social conversations or flipping through magazines. They should be sitting in an elevated chair, alert, and ready to act immediately if they see an emergency.

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