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Metro beaches, pools scramble to find lifeguards in time for summer heat

Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board recently announced the opening of the city's pools and beaches for the season.

MINNEAPOLIS — Most Minnesota pools and beaches have already opened for the season, including North Commons Park in north Minneapolis, but there’s a shortage of lifeguards across the board.

Larry Umphrey is the director of aquatics with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, and he says they’re feeling the impact of the nationwide shortage.

"We're probably around about 50%-55% of what we’d like to be," he said.

The shortage is also affecting other parts of the metro.

A spokesperson with Ramsey County says the county has been affected by the lifeguard shortage and lifeguard services are not provided at county beaches this summer.

At YMCA of the North, they’re still short about 100 lifeguards.

According to the American Lifeguard Association, more than one third of U.S. public pools and beaches are affected by the lifeguard shortage.

“We haven’t had impacts on closing beaches or hours, the impact is on the amount of beaches that are guarded," said Umphrey.

Last year, a 12-year-old died days after he was pulled from the North Commons Park pool. The park was closed for the season and the gates were locked.

According to the the CDC, children of color have a higher risk of drowning due to numerous factors, and are more likely to drown in public pools.

"At North Commons Water Park, we have free swimming lessons for all youth, all they have to do is sign up," said Humphrey.

As they work to keep kids safe while in the water, they’re hoping to bring more lifeguards on board before the end of the summer.

MPRB is hiring lifeguards. For more information, visit the site here.

YMCA of the North says they are hiring lifeguards 18 or older particularly for evenings and weekends. For more information, visit the site here.

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