Lifeguards with the red and yellow flag which shows where it's safest to swim
Lifeguards with the red and yellow flag which shows where it's safest to swim Photo: SARA ALVES

Beach season begins without full complement of lifeguards

Federation calls for complete rethink of lifeguarding “as a profession”

The beach season officially began in Portugal today with news that half the vacancies for lifeguards up and down the country have yet to be filled.

This is becoming a systemic problem, in spite of the relatively ‘good wages’ these young people receive.

Lifeguarding is a temporary job – that is one of the stumbling blocks.

The wages are high (€1,200 per month), but the hours and demands are long, and because the job is generally taken up by people under the age of 30, the fact that five months require six days a week ‘stuck on the beach’ from 9am to 7pm can get ‘very tiring’.

These are some of the reasons the Life Guard Federation has been giving SIC for the fact that this year – like many before it – has not seen enough qualified lifeguards coming forwards.

In the Algarve, Albufeira has sought to get round the problem by holding extra training courses, but even so, it is an uphill struggle – which is why the Federation suggests the very vital service should be made a profession, and incorporated within the civil service.

So far, this is just a suggestion. There have been no official discussions in this regard, but with so much focus on improving Portugal’s ‘touristic offer’, a situation where beaches are properly manned with trained rescuers, even outside the habitual summer months of June to September, can only make sense.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com