Shortage of lifeguards cause a third of Seattle beaches to close for summer

Jun 9, 2022, 2:25 PM
Alki Beach Park in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...
Alki Beach Park in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Due to an ongoing shortage of lifeguards, Seattle Parks has announced that they will not be opening three of the nine beaches for public use.

East Green Lake Beach, Seward Park Beach, and Matthews Beach are among the beaches that will not have a lifeguard stationed, as well as three public pools, the Medger Evers, Evans, and Queen Anne pools.

This is the second year in a row that Seward Park Beach and East Green Lake Park have been closed for the summer.

Lifeguard shortage could see some Seattle beaches closed to swimmers

During the pandemic, Seattle Parks and Recreation was not able to hold lifeguard certification classes due to the proximity necessary for trainees to practice and show proficiency in rescuing prior to certification…” Seattle Parks and Recreation said in a statement released about their decision to close some of the beaches. “Currently we have 165 lifeguards on staff and need around 425 to staff indoor pools and summer beach/pool offerings.”

People can still swim at unguarded beaches at their own risk, but the parks department warns against it due to the high amount of drowning that can occur.

On the Gee and Ursula Show, Spike O’Neil weighed in on the importance of the city providing these outdoor spaces, but also ensuring that they were safe for the public.

If the city has a park, the city has an obligation to make that a safe place to use,” O’Neil said. “If it’s a public beach, I think the city has a debt to the citizens who pay taxes for the city to give us these benefits and these amenities and to have it be monitored and be safe or close it down.”

Beginning on June 25, the six other beaches will be opened and fully staffed with the available lifeguards, as well as the seven of the public pools in the area.

The city is still looking for applicants for the open lifeguard positions, with pay starting at $20 an hour.

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Shortage of lifeguards cause a third of Seattle beaches to close for summer