[June 28 Junior Lifeguard email]
Hello JG Families:
As many of you may have heard, we found some hypodermic needles on the beach this week and unfortunately had an incident where a Junior Lifeguard stepped on a needle. We want you to know that we share your concerns, and are taking the risk of hypodermic needles very seriously. As a safety precaution, we have instructors checking in early each day to rake the area and look for any needles in the sand around our area. Some parents have asked if we allow JG participants to wear water shoes, and the answer to that is yes. We have never required our Junior Lifeguards to run barefoot, we just ask that if they are going to wear water shoes, it is something that is lightweight that the JG can hold while they swim if necessary. In our experience water shoes provide some measure of safety, but donít protect fully against hypodermic needles.
We have had hypodermic needles on our beaches for many years. So, we make a point of describing them to our JGs on the very first day of the program, and explain that they need to keep their eyes on the sand always and watch for any hazards. If they do see something they think may be dangerous, they have been instructed to draw a large circle around it in the sand, find something noticeable to place in the circle to mark the spot, and then notify an instructor.
I understand the concerns about finding needles this summer. In many ways, this is an indicator that our JGs have been following our directions and are being diligent about keeping their eyes open for possible beach hazards. We have had over 500 participants in the JG program each summer, and this is the first time that I am aware of that we have had a Junior Lifeguard step on a hypodermic needle. We hope that it is an isolated incident, but want you to know that we will continue to do everything we can to minimize the risk of this happening again, and will continue to remind our Junior Lifeguards to stay alert to beach hazards...
The letter was digitally signed by Tess Parkhouse, Marine Safety Officer, Junior Lifeguard Coordinator.
LBFD's Junior Lifeguard program is open to students ages 9-17. The program's website indicates the cost to participate is $460 with scholarships available through the City of Long Beach to those who qualify.