The United States Lifesaving Association is often asked for recommendations regarding minimum equipment standards for lifeguards at open water beaches. A list of this equipment has been developed by USLA and is reprinted below. This equipment is required of any organization seeking to be recognized under the USLA Lifeguard Agency Certification Program.
These recommendations are a minimum which all open water beach lifeguard providers should meet. Agencies are encouraged to meet higher standards, particularly in cases where lifeguards are assigned to broader responsibilities. For example, lifeguards assigned to scuba search and rescue would obviously need proper scuba equipment appropriate to open water rescuers. Similarly, lifeguards assigned to paramedic, EMT, law enforcement, cliff rescue, boating enforcement, and other duties, would need, in addition to the following, equipment appropriate to those duties.
- At least one rescue flotation device (RFD) for each lifeguard on duty
- Mask(s) and snorkel(s) readily accessible to mount an underwater search and rescue, as appropriate
- Binoculars readily accessible in the beach area, as well as in each main tower and emergency vehicle
- Marker buoy(s) readily accessible for submerged victim search and rescue
- Swim fins for rescue purposes readily accessible to lifeguards as appropriate according to local conditions
- A first aid kit adequate to treat minor injuries at each staffed lifeguard post
- A first aid kit adequate to treat both minor and major medical emergencies at each beach area
- Equipment to protect against bloodborne pathogens consistent with OSHA requirements
- Spinal stabilization equipment, including spineboard, head and neck immobilization devices, and fastening devices readily accessible at each beach area
- Oxygen readily accessible at each beach area of any agency with personnel trained in its use, as allowed by local protocol
- For agencies seeking advanced certification: A cardiac defibrillator (or defibrillators) readily accessible at each staffed beach area, with personnel trained in its use.
- Equipment for lifeguards to communicate with the public at a distance (ex: whistles, megaphone(s), air horn(s), etc.)
- Equipment for lifeguard to lifeguard communication
- Equipment for lifeguards to immediately activate local emergency medical services (EMS)
- Lifeguards are required to wear an easily identifiable uniform, denoting the wearer as a trained rescuer (ex: "Lifeguard," "Beach Patrol," "Marine Safety") and denoting the employing agency
- Sunscreen for all lifeguard personnel
- Reasonable equipment to protect lifeguards from sun exposure
Record Keeping and Reporting
- A system for documenting lifeguard activities, consistent with USLA standards, with annual statistical data reported to the USLA statistics coordinator by March 1 of each year