SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – With temperatures approaching triple digits, lots of people were looking for a place to cool off. However, the shortage of lifeguards this year has made finding a safe spot tricky.
This lifeguard shortage is statewide, and unfortunately comes on the heels of a record number of drowning incidents over the past two years.
Thursday’s high temperatures made it the perfect day to cool off with a swim. However, some popular swimming spots have had to close due to a lifeguard shortage. At Five Mile Pond in Springfield, the gates were closed at the swimming entrance. The signs stated the pond was open for fishing only.
Meredith Sen of East Longmeadow told 22News, “We came and tried to swim in the lake today. We tried to swim at Lake Lorraine, there was a state park there, but it was closed and then we came over here to Five Mile Pond but the lifeguard shortage means no swimming, I guess.”
Meredith eventually let her kids take a quick dip in the shallow water. But, it was under her watchful eye, where she wasn’t too far to intervene if need be.
Brian Ford the Assistant Water Safety Director for the City of Springfield said, “Swimming at Five Mile Pond, swimmers face a risk. There are no trained professionals there to assist in any emergencies.”
One alternative is to take advantages of public pools. The advantages of swimming at the pool include trained lifeguards, first aid kids, and AEDs. An AED is an Automatic External Defibrillator, and is used if a person goes into cardiac shock.
Lifeguard Mikayla Rios explained about other safety devices they keep at the pool, “We also provide lifejackets for all swimmers who may need assistance in the pool, so it does keep them safe.”
Looking for another reason to head to the pool as opposed to the pond? Safety professionals also caution about natural hazards that can be found in ponds and lakes, such as rocks, weeds and logs.
So this year, with the lifeguard shortage, it’s probably better to stay safe and leave Five Mile Pond to the birds.
While it is not illegal to swim where there are no lifeguards, it can be dangerous to do so. Remember, if you feel so inclined to swim in a natural setting like a lake, pond, or river; you are assuming the inherent risk that comes with that act.