News 4 Investigates: How to know lifeguards are paying attention - KMOV.com

News 4 Investigates: How to know lifeguards are paying attention at pools?

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A lifeguard at a pool in Kirkwood. Credit: KMOV A lifeguard at a pool in Kirkwood. Credit: KMOV
KIRKWOOD (KMOV.com) -

It's been a hot summer and St. Louis area pools have been busy, but how do you know lifeguards are actually paying attention to what's happening in the water?

Investigative reporter Chris Nagus went behind the scenes with a local company that's putting lifeguards to the test and learned there are three things you need to watch for to make sure your lifeguard is keeping you safe.

News 4 went with a crew from Backyard Lifeguards as they went to test the lifeguards working at Kirkwood.

Stephanie McCormick runs the company that monitors lifeguards at big municipal pools like Kirkwood.

Their goal isn't to get lifeguards in trouble, but making sure nobody is slacking on duty is serious business.

It’s important when you know how quickly someone can drown,

“20 seconds really, first 20 seconds to identify them before they submerge. I would say 60 seconds unable to recover,” said McCormick.

McCormick's crew can't be everywhere, but says pool goers should watch for these good lifeguard traits.

1.) Good posture: Do they have good posture while sitting or standing poolside?

2.) Correct bad behavior: Do they blow the whistle to correct bad behavior when kids break rules?

3.) Rotate in and out: Do they rotate in and out frequently to combat complacency?

McCormick says “active paying attention does not look like much, but not paying attention certainly does.”

During KMOV’s visit to Kirkwood, McCormick and her helpers liked what they saw. After watching from a distance they put several lifeguards to the test.

The drills aren't designed to scare anyone. But McCormick says they aren't supposed to be easy either.

“We are here to make them a little nervous they should know what it feels like to have that adrenalin going in a critical incident and they need to perform,” said McCormick

News 4 examined lifeguards at numerous pools from across St. Louis County.

All of the lifeguards appeared to be performing according to the standards outlined by McCormick.

Although she has faith in good lifeguards, she says parents must pay attention.

McCormick says, “Parents should always be responsible for their own children, the lifeguard is not a babysitter.”

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