For Summer Pool Parties, Put up Your Guard!

July 14, 2009
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Lifeguard Kristin McCellan

Lifeguard Kristin McCellan

As one can imagine, with the hundreds of thousands of swimming pools in California, our state is second only to Florida in swimming pool related injuries and deaths in the United States.

Pretty much everyone is familiar with some of the statistics:

Six people drown in U.S. pools every day. Centers for Disease Control

Drowning is the 4th leading cause of accidental death in the United States, claiming 4,000 lives annually.
Approximately one-third are children under the age of 14.  American Institute for Preventive Medicine

A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

 A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child age 4 and under. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

For every child who drowns, four are hospitalized for near drowning. American Academy of Pediatrics
Mindful of these and other pool drowning statistics, more parents are hiring certified lifeguards for their personal pool parties, especially when young children involved.

Tony Ortiz, a Loyola college student and a lifeguard for six years at the La Verne community pool, has served as a lifeguard at many private parties over the years.
“The last private pool party I lifeguarded for was a birthday party,” Ortiz said. “It was pretty simple, a small pool. It was easy to keep an eye on everyone, but I actually had to jump in and save someone when they got trapped in the middle of the pool.

“It was gnarly.  I was all dressed. I didn’t expect to go in. I dove in with my shirt, socks and shoes.”

Even when Ortiz doesn’t have to jump in to rescue someone, he knows he offers his clients peace of mind.

“I’ve been told many times that even if I’m just there, it’s a huge relief,” Ortiz said. “Parents can focus on other things.” Ortiz usually charges $30 or $40 for a party.
Another lifeguard, Kristen McClellan, also works at the community pool, conducts private lessons and hires herself out as a lifeguard for private pool parties.
“We were doing this elementary school pool party earlier this year, and this kid went off the diving board and thought he could swim and started drowning,” said McClellan, a sophomore at Cal State Fullerton studying to be a nurse. “My friend Felicia saved him.

“Parties are full of distractions, so by having us there, parents have one less thing to worry about.”

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