These towers are often constructed 10-15 feet above ground in order to allow the lifeguards increased line of sight. This elevated position allows lifeguards to see over obstructive objects such as beach umbrellas, canopies, and other distractions. This high up position also allows lifeguards to better identify rip currents and other possible hazards.
Another advantage of the lifeguard tower is its visibility to the public. Because the lifeguard tower stands out on a beach, it allows the public to know exactly where the lifeguard is located. This gives the public a sense of security because in case of an emergency they know where to easily find lifeguard personnel.
The lifeguard tower also helps to prevent lifeguards from fatiguing in their draining environment. Lifeguard towers provide lifeguards with shade and also protect them from wind and in very rare cases, rain.
These lifeguard towers are extensively equipped with lifesaving and medical gear. The lifesaving equipment generally consists of several lifeguard buoys, lifeguard paddleboard, tow rope, signs, binoculars, extra sets of rescue fins, and communication devices (phone and/or radio). The tower’s medical equipment typically consists of a full first aid kit, oxygen kit, backboard, and occasionally an AED.
This vast array of equipment allows lifeguards to be fully prepared to respond to aquatic and medical emergencies.
The standard beach lifeguard will often be stationed at a lifeguard tower. There is often one lifeguard per lifeguard tower; however it is not uncommon to have 2-3 lifeguards stationed in a lifeguard tower on busy days.
In some lifeguard agencies, lifeguards are not permitted to leave the lifeguard tower area unless they are performing a preventative action or responding to a medical or aquatic emergency. In other lifeguard agencies, lifeguards are allowed to temporarily leave the tower and do routine beach patrols on foot as long as they are equipped with a communication device.
When a lifeguard is first hired, they will almost always start off their lifeguard career as a tower lifeguard. This tower lifeguard is the first defense against medical and aquatic emergencies. Tower lifeguards are constantly scanning the ocean in order to identify possible hazards and at-risk swimmers.
Beach tower lifeguards are instructed of the area in which they are responsible. In extensive lifeguarding agencies such as Huntington Beach where there are dozens of lifeguard towers on a single beach, this area will often encompass the ocean up coast and down coast of their lifeguard tower. However, some beaches will only have one lifeguard tower and therefore the lifeguard is responsible for the instructed areas and/or as far as they can see.
NOTE: These lifeguard boundaries are NOT set in stone. If there is an aquatic emergency that is out of your instructed area, you are still responsible!
For example, a lifeguard in Florida became a national hero because he risked his job to save an in-danger swimmer that was out of his lifeguard jurisdiction.
Aside from your own safety and the safety of your fellow lifeguards, the public’s safety is your #1 priority!