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By Stan Wall
From my experience of working as a lifeguard for 32 years, across all types of aquatic environments and conditions, there are a number of key health and fitness requirements that I commonly see that need to be addressed and are so often missed. One of the most important tools for a lifeguard are their eyes, and an extension of our eyes are our sunglasses.
As a lifeguard our sunglass choices should not be made for style or the latest fashion. That trend on the street may not always be what is suitable. Working in and around the water causes problems. Lifeguards have to tend with light refraction and issues caused by the heat, the wind, clouds and people themselves. All of these impact on our working environment and our ability to see. One of the most critical takeaways of being an lifeguard is "if we cant see you, we cant save you”.
Our Sunglasses therefore play an important part in our job, not only in our own health and wellbeing, but they are critical for us to being able to save a life. For this reason cheap is nasty and is not fit for purpose. We need to look after our eyes. Each lifeguard is different so it is important to pick up the right pair of sunglasses that not only protect our eyes but will also suit our face.
You make sure your facemask fits your face? You carry a pair of gloves that fit your hands. Lifeguards should take the time to have their sunglasses fitted correctly. Remember our sunglasses are designed to save our eyes from bright sun light and high energy radiations, and as a result help us maintain vigilance on the swimmers under our care.
Sunglasses come with lenses that are coloured, darkened (green, grey or brown) and can be be polarized. Lifeguards require polarized lens at all times to reduce the glare produced by the sunlight reflected off the water, sand or hard surfaces. The ability to cut through glare is a one of the key factors in good surveillance, along with other aspects of effective scanning such as your posture, position, pattern and patrons.
So don’t do it for the fashion, do it to mitigate the risk to the patrons along with addressing our own health. Make your eyes important, care for them and they will care for us.