'We're not going to leave any pool unattended.' Nassau tackles lifeguard shortage as pools open
Nassau County has taken steps to deal with a lifeguard shortage, as public pools are set to open on Monday.
The shortage is an ongoing problem across the United States, including on Long Island.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman says he is confident that pools will be safe. However, he says the county could use some more lifeguards.
"We have about 200 lifeguards now. We could probably use about 80 more," he says.
Blakeman says the shortage can be partly blamed on the pandemic and shorter summer breaks for college kids.
To make things more attractive, the county is offering salaries starting at $18 an hour, plus free certifications.
Nassau has even lowered the age for spray pool lifeguards to 15.
Blakeman says the county will have enough guards to open all pools and beaches, but by the end of the summer some may leave for school. That could leave some pools and beaches in a jam and that shortened hours or staffing adjustments may have to be made to keep safety levels high. But he hopes it doesn't come to that.
"We're always going to make some adjustments, but safety is No. 1 and we have to make sure we're fully staffed. We're not going to leave any pool unattended," Blakeman reassures.
Nassau is on a big recruiting drive to ensure it can keep all pool facilities open through the season.