August is the month to which I am looking forward to during the whole year. (For real!) It’s the month when I am doing my summer job as a lifeguard at the belgian coast. The nice colleagues, the work outside, the parties, the (sometimes funny) people on the beach,… There is always something going on in Blankenberge and that’s why I like this job so much.
Belgium has a small coastline, with a length of 68 km. Despite its small size, the coast is highly urbanised over practically its entire length and is visited by many thousands of tourists each year so a good lifeguard service has been built up over the years. Because the North Sea only borders Flanders, more particularly the province of West Flanders, the training of the lifeguards is organised by the province. Beach lifeguards in Belgium are trained by the WOBRA (Dutch abbreviation for West Flemish training centre for firemen, lifeguards and ambulance crew). Beach lifeguards in Belgium are mostly students who are employed for a month during the summer holidays (July and August). Some municipalities also employ lifeguards in June and September. In order to obtain uniformity, all municipalities from the Belgian coast are joined in the IKWV (Dutch abbreviation for intercommunal coast lifeguard service of West Flanders). This is the coordinating organ for all the municipalities regarding the organisation of the lifeguard service.
A picture of a crowded Blankenberge. (by Gertjan Tanghe)