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Help wanted: Pools struggle to open with lifeguard shortage

As Newswatch 16's Andy Palumbo reports, our area, and much of America, is stuck in a lifeguard shortage.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Temperatures are headed for the nineties later this week, and some of us might have a hard time cooling off.

Earlier this year, Newswatch 16 reported on federal officials raising the red flag at Smithfield Beach in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area. This area was lifeguard-free all last summer, and the National Park Service doesn't want it to happen again. Recruiting is underway, and the job pays $17 an hour.

Signs are up, alerting visitors to the lifeguard shortage. The park service advises using life jackets; they even have some to borrow.

For the first time in six years, the town pool in Bloomsburg should be up and running. We are told everything is set to go, but there is still a potential question mark over lifeguards. Last month, a town official said they needed a dozen to staff the pool. At the time, only four had signed up.

This year, the pool at Lackawanna State Park will be closed because it needs a new liner. Last year, the pool was closed all summer because of the lifeguard shortage.

This area is not alone. New York City is experiencing its worst lifeguard shortage ever, and Boston is advertising $1,200 sign-on bonuses.

The American Lifeguard Association believes one-third of the country's public pools don't have enough lifeguards. Hours are cut, and some pools and beaches have been closed altogether.

There are exceptions, like in Berwick. Newswatch 16 reported in March that the pool is ready for the summer season, and all 22 lifeguards from last year are scheduled to return for the summer of 2023. The Ber Vaughn pool opened for the season last weekend.

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