Forget Texting and Driving: Try Texting While Lifeguarding

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While you were lounging on the beach this summer, your lifeguard was probably texting. Feel safe?

Bernard J. Fisher II, the head of health and safety for the American Lifeguard Association, told the New York Times he heard a major increase in complaints about texting on the job. Why the increase? Lifeguards tend to be young people on summer vacation, and what else do kids do these days?

But the texting threat is no laughing matter. Last summer, an Illinois man died after drowning, while the lifeguard was distracted with a text message. Two years ago, a boy in Ireland died while the lifeguard was texting.

Lifeguards are taught to scan their assigned areas in 10-second cycles, since people can drown in just 20 seconds. This would leave no time to send a text message. But budget cuts have forced companies to hire less-qualified lifeguards who will work cheaply, which may have led to these safety concerns.

One New York lifeguard supervisor told the Times he decided to take matters into his own hands. One day, he pushed a guard into a local pool after catching him texting. After that, his phone probably didn’t work. Problem solved.