Any time of the year, whether swimming, boating or going to a water park, everyone should know the basics of water safety. The Red Cross offers courses for personal safety and swimming for all ages, safety in small water craft and courses leading to lifeguard certification. The best part about taking a Red Cross course is that while you are learning, you are also helping the Red Cross’ mission to provide compassionate care to those in need.
There are two important elements prior to becoming a lifeguard. The American Red Cross requires that you must be at least 15 years old and pass course-specific swimming requirements prior to starting training.
Courses and Preparation / Ways to Learn:
In-person course: Created for those who prefer a traditional learning environment, in-person courses are led by one of best-in-class instructors. In-person courses provide the time you need to learn, ask questions and understand the hands-on skills needed to become certified as a lifeguard. The total time commitment for the Lifeguarding course is 25 hours, 20 minutes.
Blended learning: Designed for those who need more flexibility, blended learning option combines both in-person and online coursework for a total time commitment of 19 hours, 30 minutes in-person and 7 hours, 30 minutes of online work for the Lifeguarding course.
There are three main training options to choose from when preparing to become a lifeguard. Training options feature three core courses which can be customized with a variety of optional add-on modules:
• Shallow Water Lifeguarding (water up to 5′ deep)
• Aquatic Attraction Lifeguarding (water up to 3′ deep)
A two-year certification in Lifeguarding/First Aid/CPR/AED is issued upon successful completion of training and coursework. A digital certification is available upon completion.
American Red Cross provides entry-level participants with the knowledge and skills to prevent, recognize and respond to aquatic emergencies and to provide care for breathing and cardiac emergencies, injuries and sudden illnesses until emergency medical service providers can take over.
Prerequisites for becoming a lifeguard are:
• minimum age 15 years old
• swim 300 yards continuously
• tread water for two minutes using only the legs
• complete a timed event within one minute, 40 seconds
• starting in the water, swim 20 yards
• surface dive to a depth of seven to 10 feet to retrieve a 10-pound object
• return to the surface and swim 20 yards on the back to return to the starting point
• exit the water without using a ladder or steps
There are online and in-person classes available. Locally, classes are held at the Town of Hempstead’s Echo Park in West Hempstead, at LIU Post in Brookville and at the Freeport Recreation Center. Visit www.redcross.org for more information.