How to lifeguard better than the cast of Baywatch

Hollywood gets things wrong, which is why Baywatch is full of mistakes. If on-screen clichés were true, everyone would wake up with perfect hair, every college dorm room would be the size of a small villa, and every person in high school would look twenty four years old. Sometimes misconceptions on television are so common that they are slowly woven into the fabric of reality.  It should not come as a surprise that Hollywood does not portray a realistic lifeguard.

Some major lifeguarding misconceptions come from watching lifeguards on television and in movies. Read these three mistakes to learn how to avoid them:

Misconception #1 : CPR is done gently Every single time there is a scene with someone performing CPR the actor is shown in a seated position, pumping their elbows, gently pressing on the victim, and repeating, “Come on, you’re going to make it!”

Reality: There is a reason you are given a certification for learning CPR; it’s hard. Just remember to follow your training by kneeling, keeping your arms locked, and compressing the chest the correct amount.

Misconception #2 : Drowning victims are noisy On-screen victims loudly splash around yelling, “Please help me” until they eventually sink slowly below the surface.

Reality: Often victims do not realize that they are in trouble until they are submerged. Watch the video below for an example of how quiet victims can be, and why you need to stay vigilant.

Drowning Prevention: Hollywood vs. Reality (video by TheRedwoodsGroup):


Misconception #3 : Rescuing a person is no big deal  The heroic Hollywood lifeguard gazes into the camera and calmly says, “it’s all in a day’s work ma’am” after rescuing a drowning victim from a pack of ravenous  sharks. He then nonchalantly returns to his stand and continues to sun bathe.

Reality: The moment you recognize that action is needed your heart races. This is okay! It’s perfectly normal to be nervous. Just make sure you remain calm and focused. Thankfully in emergencies, you have trained for every situation and are prepared. You can rely on your training knowledge and procedure to help you through your anxiety. Understanding this will help you to lifeguard better.

Now you know truth. So remember not to copy what Baywatch did because you’re a better lifeguard.

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