TWINSBURG, Ohio — With the great weather we had this Memorial Day in Northeast Ohio, a lot of people enjoyed the pool or the beach for a cool down. But as people head to the water this summer, there’s a warning for parents to be more vigilant with fewer lifeguards on the lookout in our area.
"Northeast Ohio and central Ohio specifically, we’ve been having issues staffing pools and making sure folks stay safe," expains Branden Burns, recreation superintendent in Twinsburg. "If facilities don’t have enough lifeguards, they’re going to be closing amenities or maybe even have to shift their schedule."
Twinsburg is one of the communities that has increased wages to attract workers. But even one call-off can ruin the day, as there's no extra help in waiting.
"It has been a challenge getting folks to come in. Not only to apply for the positions, but to get trained and certified as a lifeguard," Burns says.
And the effects are being seen everywhere.
In Mentor, the city will only operate one pool this year. Beaches are being affected as well. Lake Metroparks won't provide lifeguards at its busy Fairport Harbor Beach Tuesdays through Thursdays due to shortages.
Also this year, Summit Metroparks won't allow any swimming at Munroe Falls Metro Park or Silver Creek Metro Park. Cleveland Metroparks is also making adjustments and offering advice to swim only while lifeguards are on duty in a designated area.
Lifeguards play a critical role in swimming safety, but trained professionals say it's really parents who must play close attention and keep kids safe, especially when lifeguards aren't around.
"Our goal is to recognize and respond to an emergency within 30 seconds. But parents you can watch your child 100% of the time. So make sure you’re actively watching your children," Burns adds.
And it’s not to late to become a lifeguard in your own community. There are still training sessions that happen throughout the summer. So, you can help kids be safe whether they’re at the pool or at the beach.