BOSTON (CBS) – The temperature is rising and pools and beaches will soon be packed. But there’s big safety problem blooming at the same time: not enough lifeguards. That could mean fewer places to go for a cooling dip.

It’s a lazy day in Natick. Cochituate State Park is one of the beaches where there may not be enough lifeguards this summer. “We want to come to the beach and enjoy the good weather and we want to know our kids are safe,” says one beach-goer.

“We are down quite a few lifeguards across the state,” says John Dwinell, who is with the Aquatics division of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Read: Complete DCR Waterfront Schedule (.pdf)

The DCR operates 70 pools and beaches. The lifeguard numbers are terrible. “Currently we have 400 lifeguards,” says Dwinell.

But that leaves 175 slots unfilled. That’s 40 percent of the total. “This is certainly the worst we’ve seen it,” Dwinell says.

The communities he’s most concerned about staffing with lifeguards are: Ashland, Brighton, Cambridge, East Boston, Lawrence, Lowell, Malden, Somerville and Waltham.

The result could be pools that are closed and beaches where it’s swim at your own risk. “We’ll have signs up that say no lifeguards beyond this point,” says Dwinell.

“I just think it’s dangerous for them to have the beach open without a full staff of lifeguards,” says one mom visiting Cochituate today.

It’s been difficult to find enough lifeguards for the DCR for about the last eight years. If you’re wondering, the wage is $13.40/hour. Not bad, but many young people have other job options for the summer, and that could leave thousands of people out of the water.

“This is what they have for the summer. Their local pool is what they’re counting on, and we’re working very hard to make sure we don’t let them down,” says Dwinell.

Most DCR pools and beaches will be open by the end of the month.

For more information on how to apply for lifeguard jobs, visit the DCR website, email, dcr.aquaticsunit@massmail.state.ma.us or call: 617-626-1224.

Ken MacLeod

Comments (2)