Are You Scanning Your Zone Properly?

Here are 10 quick tips to ensure you don’t miss a thing!

  1. Know Your Zone – Review what your zone has been validated for. This could be the whole pool if you work at a single guard facility, or a portion of the pool with overlapping zones if you work at a multi-guard facility.
  2. Proper Position – Make sure you are seated in a position where you can see your entire zone.  This position should be at the edge of the pool and predetermined with your supervisor.
  3. Scan With A Pattern – You will need a systematic pattern that you can change up every now and then to ensure you scan the whole pool. Try up-and-down, side-to-side, or even the alphabet as a scanning pattern. Bonus: this helps keep you vigilant!
  4. Move Your Head – Human peripheral vision is great to notice movement, but not great at seeing details. This is why you MUST move your head and your eyes in order to see everything in your zone. You have to look directly at an area to ensure you see it.
  5. Downward Head Movement – One of the most popular places for children and high-risk guests is right below the lifeguard. Be sure to move your head and look directly below your stand to see all parts of your zone. Incorporate a downward head swing every 10 seconds of your scan.
  6. Check All Levels – The pool is three-dimensional. This means when you scan, you must check the bottom, middle, and top layers of the pool, not just the surface.
  7. 10 Seconds – Your scanning pattern should take you no more than 10 seconds to scan, and then repeat. Avoid fixation on more active areas. Remember, someone could need your help from any area of the pool, not just the busy areas.
  8. 5 Minute Strategy – To keep your mind focused, try changing your body position every 5 minutes by standing up for a few seconds. This will reinvigorate you to keep up your consistent scanning.
  9. Stay Consistent – Overall you will want to stay consistently scanning whenever you are on duty. This will ensure you spot something in your zone right away!
  10. IF YOU DON’T KNOW, GO! – If you see something in your zone that is abnormal, or you see a guest acting differently, don’t hesitate, and jump in! Not all drowning patrons look like the movies, or even like your training. If you are ever unsure, it is better to jump in and try to help, than to wait until you are positive, it may be too late if you hesitate.
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