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What A Lifeguard Program Really Costs

I could start this off by talking about the many drowning victims Tamarindo has experienced over the years, and how the value of a single human life is priceless. I could talk about the horrific experience of personally dragging a dead body up onto the beach, or of a wife shocked beyond disbelief that her husband has drowned and is gone. I could bring up times when people would have survived if only there had only been someone there able to save them. But, instead, I choose to focus on what the community of Tamarindo has done as a result of these things.

The Tamarindo Lifeguard program was created to support our local beach and create a safer beach environment for everyone to enjoy. Our team of lifeguards are trained in water rescues, spinal injuries, CPR and first aid. We monitor ocean conditions and help keep people safe from rip currents and dangerous tidal flows, especially from the estuary to the Pico Grande rocks. We work in close liaison with the local police force to help provide a stronger sense of security on the beach. Our aim is to further strengthen our community through various lifeguard programs and events that positively affect everyone.

So what does it really cost to run an effective lifeguard program in Tamarindo?

Well, considering we have over one mile of beach, various rock outcroppings, dangerous rips and tidal flows (especially near the estuary), howling offshore winds, and at times quite sizable surf conditions, the bare minimum staffing requirements for a single lifeguard tower is AT LEAST 3 full-time salaried lifeguards. This allows us to always have two lifeguards on duty at any given time, to cover days off/vacation periods, and to monitor as much of the beach as possible. Certified lifeguards have a minimum cost of roughly $1000/month, therefore 3 full-time lifeguards carries a cost of $3000/month.

Besides human resources, here is a list of what a basic lifeguard program needs. As of now we are still needing the items in yellow:

  • A lifeguard tower

  • a complete first aid kit

  • 1 spine board

  • 6 lifesaving buoys (we have 3 buoys, we need 3 more for busy days with multiple lifeguards patrolling)

  • 6 sets of swim fins

  • 6 whistles

  • 4 beach safety flags (we have 2 flags, we need bigger and with better flag poles to withstand howling offshore winds)

  • 8 VHF radios (we have 2 radios, but we need multiple, higher quality VHF radios so that every lifeguard as well as participating local businesses can be notified in case of serious beach emergencies)

  • 4 sets of binculars (we have 2, one in fair condition and the other is almost worthless)

  • rescue board

  • portable defibrillator

  • addtional uniforms

We are hoping to receive some of the equipment listed above as donations. We have determined to use a budget of $500/month to provide adequate funding for maintining and replacing equipment and supplies as necessary.

So there you have it. For one lifeguard tower, the cost to provide an effective lifeguard program for Tamarindo is $3,500/month. If we had two lifeguard towers the cost would be $7,000/month. When you consider the value of a human life, or the impact of tourists deciding to return to Tamarindo every year because they feel safe enjoying our beach, the cost seems more than fair.

Local businesses are suggested to donate 0.25%/month of their monthly revenue. Vacation property owners are asked to donate 2% of their monthly revenue. Donations of all kind from anyone are welcome and appreciated! Thank you!

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