Last Updated: March 2023

Click here to download this RLSS UK Statement Guidance

Lifeguarding may involve long periods outside in the elements. Lifeguards need to stay protected from the harmful effects of the sun. The sun can reflect off water, making its effects stronger – it is too late to take action if the lifeguard already starts to feel burnt. Preventative measures are advisable. 


  • Assess the health risks that lifeguards may be exposed to.  
  • Provide free access to cool drinking water. 
  • Introduce shading in areas where individuals are working (if possible). 
  • Provide shade for rest breaks. 
  • Encourage the removal of rescue equipment when resting to help encourage heat loss. 
  • Educate workers about recognising the early symptoms of heat stress. 
  • Provide UV-protective, breathable fabric workwear. 
  • Insist on lifeguards wearing a hat. 
  • Consider increasing the frequency of lifeguard rotation to reduce exposure to the sun. 


  • Apply high-factor sunscreen 20-30 minutes before exposure to the sun to prevent damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight.  
  • Re-apply sunscreen regularly (as per the product instructions). 
  • Wear a brimmed hat or peaked cap for sun protection and visibility and to reduce the risk of overheating. 
  • Wear UV Protective workwear, if available. 
  • Take frequent rest-breaks in shaded rest areas. 
  • Drink plenty of cold fluids to avoid dehydration, loss of concentration, and heat stress and to reduce the risk of overheating. 
  • Keep long hair tied up (as per RLSS UK guidance). 

RLSS UK’s top seven safety tips for lifeguards working in hot weather. 

  • Shade (umbrella, take your rest-break out of the sun). 
  • Slop on sunscreen (at least SPF 30, but ideally as high as possible)*. 
  • Slap on a hat. 
  • Slurp plenty of water to stay cool and hydrated. 
  • Sunglasses with appropriate UV protection. 
  • Support is available should you need a break.  
  • Swap positions regularly. 

*Whilst the Health and Safety Executive recommends using high-factor sunscreen of at least SPF15 on any exposed skin, RLSS UK’s recommendation is based on the NHS guidelines.   

Health and Safety Executive – Outdoor workers and sun exposure 

Health and Safety: Outdoor workers and sun exposure ( 

NHS – Sunscreen and sun safety 

Sunscreen and sun safety - NHS ( 

Click here for other RLSS UK Guidance Statements