Many parents will tell you that the best lifeguard is a parent. Lifeguards at Triangle Swim Club in Cary agree, and add that a lot of parents could learn something from them about safety.
Dana Reese has been climbing a lifeguard's tower for five years. She has to be ready to dive into action, but usually only the eyes get exercise.
"Things can happen very quickly. Probably the most important thing is scanning the pool and not staring at just one section, because if you stare at just one section you never know what could happen," she says.
Lifeguards are trained to keep their eyes on the water. Reese says she is surprised that parents do not follow that rule with their own children.
"A lot of parents will get distracted talking to someone, or they'll get very involved in a book (and not pay attention)," she says.
It is understandable that parents might relax when lifeguards are around, but what about places like Lake Jordan, where there are no lifeguards?
"I feel very safe here because even when there are lifeguards, I still consider it my responsibility to make sure that my kids are safe," says Tara Zedalis.
Zedalis says staying alert is too much for one parent, so she has help.
"I can't see their bathing suits and the heads all look the same out (in the water), so I usually bring pals for them and a pal for myself. The extra eyes are important," Zedalis says.
When all eyes are tired, take a tip from the lifeguards: get everyone out of the water for at least 10 minutes every hour.
"This gives all the lifeguards a break from watching the pool, because just sitting there for a long time can make you tired," says Reece.
It is also important for parents to keep their children from being too rowdy when they swim. It is a distraction for lifeguards, and may pull their attention away from swimmers who need help.