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Lifeguard shortage may force half of public pools in U.S. to close or limit hours

Lifeguard shortage continues in summer 2023
Lifeguard shortage continues in summer 2023 03:21

As children make a splash in Los Angeles, Chicago opens its pools, and thousands flock to Florida's beaches, it's clear that Americans just want to be in the water as summer gets underway. 

However, a shortage of lifeguards is threatening all kinds of summer fun. 

This isn't the first year there has been more demand than supply for lifeguards, but across the country, states and municipalities are facing their worst shortages on record. In New York City, even a 9% pay increase and sign-on bonus hasn't convinced people to take the job, leaving the city with just a third of the lifeguards it needs. 

Across the country, about half of the nation's 309,000 public pools will be forced to close their doors or reduce hours, according to the American Lifeguard Association. 

In Colorado, a series of state grants are working to rectify the problem. Jen Spettel of Johnstown, Colorado's YMCA said that her pool received just over $10,000, which will be used to find new lifeguards. 

"It  will help us train and recertify lifeguards and incoming lifeguards, and it will also help us train lifeguard instructors. That is a big piece of this, is to get more staff trained to teach more guards," Spettel said. "For smaller communities, there are less people up here. Attracting that entry level lifeguard is more challenging, we need more resources." 

Wyatt Werneth, a spokesperson for the American Lifeguard Association, which patrols Florida beaches, told CBS News that low salaries, a lack of qualified applicants and rigorous testing makes it difficult to hire lifeguards. 

"It is more than just a summer job," Werneth said. "Lifeguards have a unique advantage of letting people know there's a danger and to stay out of that danger." 

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