Proposed law would set up a national lifeguard organization

A handful of lawmakers have proposed the creation of a national lifeguard corps and a requirement that every municipality with a dangerous beach have this type of rescue personnel.

The bill, No. 20.043, has been presented to the full legislature and has not yet been assigned to a committee for study.

A summary points out that between 2000 and 2014 840 persons have died by drowning in Costa Rica, and 37 percent of them were foreigners.

That averages out to about 60 a year.

Less than 1 percent of the nation’s beaches are protected by lifeguards, said the summary, which blames the death toll mostly on rip tides and the lack of lifeguards.

The bill would create a national committee to certify lifeguards, provide training and control the budget. Some of the money would come from the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, to which the lifeguard committee would belong.

If the bill is passed in the original form, municipalities with beaches would have three months to set up a lifeguard corps.
The municipalities would have to do this with their own resources, says the bill.

Rip tides are created by water returning to the sea. No one can resist the force of a strong rip tide, and they are unseen. A rip tide can grab an adult male standing in water up to his thighs and sweep him out to sea.

The proposed national committee also would have the job of maintaining signs about the danger at the nation’s beaches. There are few signs now.

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