How to hire a pool party or beach event lifeguard – Southern California

The year 2022 is upon us and we are anticipating a very busy year based on early feedback we have received. As a result of the feedback we have been receiving, many folks are thinking about pool parties which warrants this blog. Our priority has always been about protecting consumers from shady and often times unscrupulous companies/individuals selling private lifeguard services. For some, hiring a lifeguard may be a first and it is those individuals we are speaking to.

This blog will serve as a guide on what to avoid and how to choose a private lifeguard for your pool party or beach event. If you have any questions, you can always reach out to us and we will be more than happy to assist you! Ultimately you have the freedom to choose your lifeguard but having the knowledge to make a solid decision is what we offer.

So, you have decided to plan a pool party, started sending out the invites, ordered the food, etc. Have you considered safety? This is the last thing that many moms planning a pool party seem to consider. Typically, safety is something that is suggested by another mom who has used a lifeguard before and suddenly the idea resonates with the party planner.

When choosing a private lifeguard for a pool party or beach event usually starts off with a recommendation (word of mouth) or a quick search using Google or Yelp. Usually word of mouth is the best source of locating a lifeguard but if you are using Google or Yelp, there are some things you need to consider. They are as follows:

Google or Yelp Search

Before the Pandemic, finding many listings for private lifeguard companies was quite easy however after two years, the choices have diminished considerably. Some no longer offer lifeguard services while others simply went out of business.

When you select a company from the search results, the first thing you should do is to check the reviews. Are the reviews positive or negative? Are there any reviews at all? Are you seeing a pattern in negative reviews such as no shows or tardy lifeguards? Does anything stand out? If you see anything that stands out, you should reach out to one of the reviewers and ask for more information on why they left a negative review. Usually there will be a link that allows you to message or email them. When you are considering hiring a lifeguard, you have every right as a consumer to take due diligence in qualifying your decision or to keep looking for a company that you are most comfortable with.

Avoid Craigslist

When searching online, we encourage everyone to avoid Craigslist at all costs. That platform is notorious for scams and fraudsters. We have identified many “freelance” lifeguards posting on Craigslist and upon identifying them we have been able to determine through secret shopping initiatives a number of issues such as not being certified at all, no professional liability insurance, young individuals and much more. We have heard many Craigslist horror stories and we do what we can to educate pool party planners on how to avoid their own horror story.

We understand that hiring a lifeguard for $20.00 per hour sounds appealing however as the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for” definitely rings true. Don’t fall for this!

Another huge problem with freelance lifeguards advertising on Craigslist is that because they are not affiliated with a municipal agency or a reputable company, they are essentially asking you to trust them and their abilities. Freelance lifeguards are not engaged with in-service training therefore their skills may not be up to par.

Do you have the ability or time to ensure all credentials?
Do you know where to go to verify certifications?
Do you know how to verify skills competency?

Choose A Reputable Company

It is imperative that a pool party planner hire a reputable company with a proven track record which includes positive reviews, mature and experienced lifeguards, and even rated on their customer service to name a few.

Ok, so you have made a decision on a company to call. What are you looking for? For starters, you should get a pad of paper and write down questions that should be asked of the company. You have every right to interview the company you plan on hiring.

Does the company have proof of professional liability insurance?
Does the company have proof of workers comp insurance?
Does the company subcontract lifeguards?
Is the company California AB-5 compliant?
How long has the company been in business?
What is the background of the owner of the company?
What training do lifeguards have?
What is the average age of lifeguards?

As you can see there are a ton of questions that can be asked and they should be willing to answer your questions. If they do not or give you a hard time, that should be a red flag!

Never Pay in Full or Pay a Deposit

This is a practice that we feel is very predatory and we have many stories to back this up.

Many companies will ask for full payment plus gratuity on top to simply reserve a lifeguard. Many will ask for a deposit as well. The problem with this practice is that even though you have paid up front does not guarantee you will get a lifeguard for the pool party or event.

Last summer for example, it was very common for us to receive phone calls from distraught moms or event planners telling us that the lifeguard they paid for was not showing up because the company did not have a lifeguard for them. These companies will gladly take deposits or full payment and they know it may be a shot in the dark as far as staffing is concerned. Another issue that was brought to our attention was that some of these companies refused to honor a full refund of the deposits or full payment. We have advised many to seek legal means and to use social media to leave reviews where many will see it such as Yelp or Google.

This a practice we are working hard to expose.

Cancellation Fees

Many companies will try to assess a cancellation fee if you must cancel your event for some reason. The cancellation fee can be quite harsh and penalize folks for legitimate reasons such as weather related issues, death or sickness in the family or some other reason.

Price Gouging

This is a huge one! Since the pandemic started, it has caused a loss of business for many which resulted in some closing their doors but for those who are still standing are attempting to make up for their losses. How are they doing this?

On average a lifeguard will be in a range from $55.00 to $65.00 per hour and no more however there are some companies and individuals attempting to charge in excess of $100.00 per hour which is extreme price gouging. Anyone charging more than $65.00 per hour should be avoided.

We have not had a rate increase since 2006 and we have no plans on raising our rates.

Pool Lifeguards vs. Beach Lifeguards

Most people hiring a lifeguard may think that they are all the same but that is false. There is a huge difference between a pool lifeguard and a beach lifeguard. The difference right off the bat is the amount of training hours and physical requirements.

Would you hire a pool lifeguard for a beach event? Hopefully not! Pool lifeguards are not trained in rip current surveillance or in rescue techniques in open water to name a few things. Pool lifeguards are not training in open water everyday like beach lifeguards. Hiring a pool lifeguard for a beach or ocean event presents many scenarios that could go south pretty quickly.

Just so you know, there are only three companies that provide fully trained ocean lifeguards. Two of them cover areas from San Diego to Orange County however we cover areas from Orange County to Santa Barbara County.


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