Parks panel to discuss possibility of lifeguards on Lake Havasu City beaches

November 12, 2018

The Lake Havasu City Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will discuss the possibility of putting lifeguards on the city’s beaches. The idea, however, has already met with skepticism among Havasu officials.

According to Lake Havasu City Manager Jess Knudsen, city staff have yet to weigh the pros and cons of such a proposal. Acquiring qualified lifeguards to patrol Havasu’s beaches, however, will be easier said than done. While the ability to run in slow motion may not be a job requirement, guarding a beach would require more specialized training than those possessed by the lifeguards at Havasu’s Aquatic Center.

“We would need employees with specialized skillsets,” Knudsen said. “Even more so with the assumption of liability at those beaches. Once those beaches are manned by city lifeguards, the city becomes responsible for all incidents that take place on that property. There’s also the idea of ownership … some of our beaches are on BLM property. There’s more to it than just having lifeguards patrol our beaches. It’s not something the city is currently considering.”

The item was floated for discussion at the Nov. 26 advisory board meeting by board member Mark Zieff.

“I’d like to see what the pros and cons would be,” Zieff said. “Lifeguards on the beach could offer security for families, educational opportunities for students, and could give retirees a chance to do something.”

According to fellow board member Michele Lin, the discussion as to beach lifeguards in Havasu is one worth having, but it’s also a risky venture for the city.

“It’s a big liability,” Lin said. “If there’s an accident and there’s a lifeguard on duty … this is such a new thing, and I don’t think we should tap into it right now.”

While there have been numerous drowning incidents on Lake Havasu in recent memory, few have actually occurred in popular swimming venues such as London Bridge Beach and Rotary Park Beach. According to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, deputies have responded to only one such incident in Havasu, which involved the death of a 29-year-old Havasu resident at London Bridge Beach in 2015. That incident was believed to have been alcohol-related.

According to Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Specialist Anita Mortensen, the majority of drowning calls received by deputies occur on open water, well away from Havasu’s shoreline. The Sheriff’s Office recommends that visitors to Lake Havasu wear life jackets, which may have prevented most of the region’s drowning deaths in recent memory.

The idea of lifeguards staffing Havasu’s shoreline will be discussed at length at the advisory board’s next meeting, set for 6 p.m. Nov. 26 at the Lake Havasu City Council Chambers.

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