What Does the Public Pool Lifeguard Shortage Mean for Pool Safety?

lifeguard watching over kids at a swimming pool

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States, a lifeguard shortage has been negatively impacting city pools. This summer, city pools in New York have cut swimming programs due to a lack of lifeguards. According to Gothamist, while city pools will remain open for general swim every day from 11 am to 3 pm and from 4 pm to 7 pm, they will not be hosting adult lap swims and other programs this summer (including senior swims and Learn to Swim). Crystal Parks, a spokeswoman for NYC Parks, stated that, “Like the entire country, it’s been a challenge recruiting enough qualified people who can pass the NYC Lifeguard requirements, and pandemic impacts on recruitment continue.”

Meanwhile, CBS News reports that the American Lifeguard Association stated that anywhere from one-third to one-half of all America’s roughly 300,000 public pools could be impacted by the national lifeguard shortage. CBS News notes in their reporting that, while the pandemic is a major cause of the current labor shortage, pay is also a factor. Many lifeguards make inadequate wages, which can lead them to find work in other vocations that pay more and offer more flexible schedules. First year lifeguards make a mere $800 a week, Gothamist reports. Lifeguards also face hazardous work conditions and long hours, and have to go through rigorous training to get their certification.

NYC Parks had to cancel their outdoor swim programs in 2021 due to lifeguard shortages as well. Sadly, 2022 will be no different, even as AccuWeather anticipates daily highs to be 2-3 degrees hotter than usual throughout the city, according to Patch.

Having lifeguards present at a pool significantly decreases the risk of swimming pool accidents, drowning, and other injuries. And in the absence of a sufficient number of trained lifeguards, swimmers should take additional precautions to protect themselves from accidents.

How To Protect Yourself at New York’s Public Pools

If you plan to visit a New York City pool this summer, consider following these recommendations to protect yourself from injury:

  • Avoid wearing flip-flops and sandals, as these shoes are unsafe in wet environments
  • Use the buddy system and ensure there is at least one other adult with you if you decide to go for a dip
  • Do not consume alcohol before swimming, since alcohol impairs judgment and reduces your ability to make rational decisions
  • Consider assigning a water guardian to act as an unofficial lifeguard, such as a friend or family member who doesn’t to swim
  • Always test the water before diving in to ensure your body is comfortable with the temperature, since leaping into freezing water can lead to shock and trouble swimming

Far too many lives are lost in swimming pool accidents every year, and with the lifeguard shortage, the potential for fatal and non-fatal drownings will be greater than usual.

What To Do If You Are Injured in a City Pool Accident

Sadly, swimming pool accidents are a relatively common occurrence, and without the monitoring and supervision that lifeguards typically provide, the risk of being involved in a swimming pool accident could increase. Premises liability law dictates that pool owners (which in the case of public pools is the City of New York) have a duty to prevent visitors to the property from being harmed while they are on the premises.

If you are injured at a public pool because of the City’s negligence, you might be able to pursue a claim against the government, depending on the circumstances of your case. Although New York has waived its sovereign immunity, there are still strict rules you must follow when bringing a claim against a municipality or another government entity. If you believe you might have grounds for a claim against the City of New York, you should speak with an attorney right away.

A New York premises liability lawyer can help you determine whether you have a case, and guide you through the complex claims process. Just because you were injured on public property doesn’t necessarily mean that you are entitled to compensation; you will still need to be able to prove that the City was negligent in some manner that led to your injury.

If you are injured in a public pool accident, you should follow these steps to protect yourself and your rights:

  • Report the accident – Call the police to the scene of the accident. The police will create an accident report that will include important information about your injuries, what caused them, and other details from the scene.
  • Document the scene – If possible, you should document the scene of the accident. For instance, if you were injured in a slip and fall accident at a New York City public pool due to wet and uneven surfaces, you should take photos of the hazard that caused you to fall and become injured. You should also photograph your injuries and get contact details from any pool goers who may have witnessed the accident. These witnesses might be able to offer a statement or testify on your behalf at a later date.
  • Seek medical attention – You should seek prompt medical care if you’ve been injured. Whether you are taken to the ER by first responders or visit the doctor yourself in the hours or days after the accident, it is crucial to be evaluated by a medical professional right away for your own safety. It’s also imperative if you plan to file a claim. To prove your claim you will need to provide medical evidence that you suffered an injury.
  • Never admit fault – Avoid apologizing or accepting blame for the accident. Even a simple “I’m sorry” could be taken as an admission of fault.

Finally, you should reach out to a seasoned New York swimming pool accident attorney to get started on your case. The sooner you speak to an attorney, the sooner your lawyer can begin gathering evidence and building a strong claim on your behalf.

Contact a New York Swimming Pool Accident Lawyer

Were you injured in a public pool accident that was caused by negligence? If so, you could be entitled to hold the City liable for losses you suffered. Contact a New York public pool accident attorney at Finz & Finz, P.C. today for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.