CLEVELAND — For years, communities across the country have been impacted by a shortage of lifeguards. This year, the impact is being felt differently across Northeast Ohio communities.
The city of Mentor will open one community pool this summer. Typically, the city would have three pools open.
To put Mentor's "extreme shortage" of lifeguards in perspective: the city needs 110 lifeguards to operate the Civic Center, Garfield and Morton pools. Right now, Mentor has 30 lifeguards.
In Rocky River, their goal is to have 75 lifeguards each season for their indoor and outdoor facilities. 3News was told their staffing is better than 2022, with just 13 vacancies heading into the 2023 season.
The Cleveland Metroparks told 3News they are fully staffed for 2023. The Metroparks has six swimming locations throughout Northeast Ohio and will have around 85 lifeguards. The six swimming locations are:
- Edgewater Beach
- Wallace Lake
- Villa Angela in Euclid Creek Reservation
- Huntington Beach
- Hinckley Lake Spillway
- Ledge Pool
However, the lifeguards for the Metroparks don't start working until June 3.
"Make sure you're not swimming alone," advised Cleveland Metroparks Aquatics Director Christy Moore.
On Thursday, the waves on Lake Erie were higher than normal. Moore told 3News if lifeguards were on duty, there would be "red flags" in place for swimmers. A "red flag" symbolizes that swimmers are not allowed to be in the water due to the conditions.
"We look at wave height, wind, current direction, if there's a beach hazard statement in effect," said Moore. "There may be days that we're closed in the morning then we reopen, so it really evolves throughout the day."
As Memorial Day weekend unofficially starts the summer season for most, visitors to the Cleveland Metroparks should be aware there will not be lifeguards at swimming areas.