Lifeguards play an important role in the security and safety of those they are hired to protect. A performance issue may arise if they succumb to circumstances that cause them to become physically or psychologically compromised. Dehydration is one issue that can result in decreased levels of workplace performance and pose personal health risks. Certified lifeguards 15 years old and older were tested for urine specific gravity (USG) to determine their place within the dehydration spectrum. Participants (N = 55) were recruited from seven test sites offering a variety of designs (indoor/outdoor, traditional/waterpark) and classifications (private, semipublic, public). Testing involved the collection of a urine specimen from participants and immediate recording of specific gravity using a reagent test strip by researchers. A brief survey to collect demographic information from subjects was also administered. The majority of participants were found to reside along the dehydration spectrum (USG ≥ 1.015), several showing results toward the severe end of the scale. The sample provided adequate demographic variability among males and females and facility classification types. No statistically significant differences were found between the demographic variables and USG scores of subjects. Since the majority of lifeguards in the sample showed some level of dehydration, this indicated a need for more information concerning lifeguards and dehydration. Despite the lack of statistically significant differences among the demographic factors within this sample, future studies should incorporate other behavioral factors and dehydration testing methods to investigate the mechanisms for preventing dehydration as well as its impact on lifeguarding performance.
Ramos, William D.; Anderson, Austin Robert; and Fletcher, Allison Lee
"Prevalence of Inadequate Hydration Levels in Aquatic Safety Personnel: A Pilot Study,"
International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education: Vol. 9
, Article 8.
Available at: http://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/ijare/vol9/iss3/8