Introduction With increasing tourism in Cox’s Bazar beach, drowning become a common occurrence. To increase beach and water safety, the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB), with support from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has implemented a lifeguard service on 3 popular tourist beaches in Cox’s Bazar.
Objectives The objective of this study was to assess the knowledge level of beach users regarding the lifeguard service and to identify barriers to lifeguarding in Cox’s Bazar.
Methods A qualitative study, a combination of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with 42 participants consisted of beach visitors, beach vendors, hotel staff, and beach police, was carried out.
Results Results from the data analysis highlighted that the majority people could identify the lifeguards and their activities. All participants knew that the indication of the lifeguards’ presence at the beach is their red and yellow uniform and the safety devices they are carrying. However, many newcomers to the beach were unaware of the lifeguard service and its purpose in detail. Also, women are less likely to know about the lifeguard service. The results showed that the main barriers to implementing a lifeguard service in Bangladesh are the lack of personnel and coverage, lack of beach vendors’ and hawkers’ cooperation, and lack of government support and/or funding.
Discussion and conclusions Newcomers are often unaware of the lifeguard service. Beach users who do know about lifeguards indicate that they do not necessarily understand the purpose of the service. Those beach users and other stakeholders who are aware of the lifeguard service tend to perceive that the number of lifeguards is not enough to raise awareness among the beach users, especially on busy days. Greater prioritisation on education and provision of consistent messages by various stakeholders, may be necessary to improve the delivery of the lifeguard service.
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