Craigslist Freelance Lifeguards – Friend or Foe?

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Lately we have received emails from a few booked clients stating they have decided to instead go with a cheaper lifeguard from Craigslist or another fly by night company. While we respect their decision, there are some things that consumers need to know about the so-called freelance lifeguard or the fly by night company.

The question we pose is why should you hire a lifeguard from a reputable company vs. Craigslist or fly by night  company? There are several reasons and allow us to educate you so that in the future you may make an educated decision on who you choose for your event.

We understand that being quoted $25.00 per hour by a freelance lifeguard may sound like an absolute steal, but there are some things you must consider and always remember that you get what you pay for.

If you are considering hiring a freelance lifeguard, you need to consider the following:

  1. Do you have the means to background check them?
  2. Do you have the means to skills test them?
  3. Do you have the means to verify all work experience as a lifeguard?
  4. Will you verify they have liability insurance & work comp insurance?
  5. Are they even certified lifeguards?
  6. Do they have references?
“Remember one thing…you get what you pay for!”
  • Craigslist Freelance Lifeguards Are Usually Young & Inexperienced:

From our experience, freelance lifeguards tend to be young ranging from 17 years old to 19 years old. Why is this a problem? Young lifeguards do not have the focus that older lifeguards have as well as the experience like older lifeguards.

We have found and we have witnessed young lifeguards completely lacking in focus and in discipline on the job. Young lifeguards tend to freeze up in an emergency especially when medical aid such as CPR should be initiated.

  • Craigslist Freelance Lifeguards Have Not Been Properly Vetted:

Although the price sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Craigslist freelance lifeguards do not typically work for an organized company that offers lifeguard services. By offering freelance services they now circumvent the strict background checks and employment procedures mandated by reputable companies if those companies even do that.

Many smaller companies do not have the resources to conduct strict and comprehensive background checks as it time consuming and costly. This is a recipe for disaster!

As a consumer, do you have the time or resources to conduct an extensive background check which includes criminal and employment experience on the freelance lifeguard? What about checking to see if they are sexual predators? There are a lot of things you may not have considered when hiring a freelance lifeguard so please be very wary.

You might also find that the Craigslist freelance lifeguards are newly certified or very inexperienced lifeguards. They might also be quite young as well. If you are OK with a young teen with little to no experience to watch your kids, more power to you.

  • Craigslist Freelance Lifeguards Are Not Engaged in “In-Service” Training:

It is common knowledge that many lifeguards after getting their initial training fail to receive in-service training unless they work for a municipal lifeguard agency or a reputable company that mandates it. Without in-service training, the skills learned in class become perishable. It is important that the lifeguard always be engaged in continuing education just like EMT’s and paramedics.

California has a new law that mandates that lifeguards receive no less than 21hours of advanced first aid training however the standard American Red Cross course in its entirety is only 24 to 32 hours long. Most lifeguards are non-compliant with this new law unless they receive advanced training from their agency or companies that are compliant.

Also keep in mind that smaller companies do not mandate in-service training.

As a consumer, are you able to verify their skills before watching your kids at a pool party?

  • Craigslist Freelance Lifeguards Do Not Have Professional Liability Insurance and Workers Comp:

It is important to understand that Craigslist freelance lifeguards do not carry insurance or workers comp insurance. Most reputable companies will pay up to $10,000 in premiums per year for insurance, malpractice insurance and workers comp combined. The freelance lifeguard charging $25.00 per hour and doing a few parties here and there certainly can’t afford to purchase the necessary insurance to do business. They are essentially a liability!

If something were to happen at a pool party and a child was injured or drowned could very well put you as a homeowner in a real bind. Watch a close friend become a fierce foe in legalities associated with such a case. The key here is to hire an experienced lifeguard from a reputable company that has a proven track record of being extremely proactive rather than reactive.

Are you willing to take that chance because you decided that you wanted to hire the cheapest lifeguard out there?

  • Craigslist Freelance Lifeguards Are Not Accountable To Anyone:

Unlike lifeguards that work for a municipal agency or a reputable company, Craigslist freelance lifeguards are not under any kind of chain of command and are not subject to policies concerning conduct. What this means is that if they are not performing up to standards, they will not be disciplined or terminated when warranted.

So, if your freelance lifeguard is not performing up to your standards, you have no recourse and can’t call to speak with a supervisor to report any questionable behavior. Essentially you are on your own!

A reputable company should have a supervisor on duty to handle any and all issues with lifeguards.

“Never put a price on the safety and well-being of your kids!”


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us anytime!!


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