I started a discussion about this on Twitter several days ago and got some really good feedback that I wanted to share here. Several high profile cases are in the news of drownings happening when guards were distracted with cell phones or other portable devices. What's your policy? Don't have one? See what others are doing.

Here's the Twitter conversation as a starting point:

Seems like lifeguards should NOT be allowed to have cell phones on duty. Too much
distraction, temptation to text, etc. What's your policy?

jeffhammond First warning verbal...second warning..the fun begins @Dorv RT @Dorv @aquaticsintl @jeffhammond Its fun, isn't it, Jeff?


 


jeffhammond @aquaticnick @aquaticsintl I have zero regrets about a handful of guards who have lost nice phones due to being drilled


 


Dorv @aquaticsintl Issue is with management. You've got to monitor that like you would anything else. Guard will get away with what you let them.



Dorv @aquaticsintl I actually don't understand why its a major issues. At most, they can be used while on break period. End of issue???



revcgriff @aquaticsintl We need to create a #tag for this issue. I have a feeling this will be a major issue for Aquatic professionals #guardphoneuse


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revcgriff @aquaticsintl Cell phones and laptops have become such an issue at my facility that My guards are not allowed to have them in the building.


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Dorv @aquaticsintl Oh, HECK no. I love it when I find out that lifeguards have cellphones in their hipacks/pockets. VAT drill time, baby!


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RedwoodsGroup @aquaticsintl It only takes 10 seconds for a child to (silently) slip under water. How long does it take to send a text? No phones on duty!


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aquaticnick @aquaticsintl my Guards aren't even allowed to use their phones while clocked in. If I caught them on stand the phone'd probably get wet!




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Agreed! Signing a policy is a good way to go about this. That way the rules and consequences are set before them and there is no excuse later. As far as the double standard, I face the same problem. I am the Aquatics Coordinator, my director is over 2 facilities and leaves this one for me to manage. In my circumstance they have to understand that I am often on call for the other pool. Any issues that arise last minute I am texting / responding to my boss. I don't know your situation, but maybe you could explain to them something of that effect. You have people you have to answer to just like your guards answer to you.
No this is dumb.
I'm a lifeguard and I have been working as one for 3 years now. We can only use our phones on breaks when we aren't on stand. And I come to think that is perfectly find. If you are on stand and texting you should be fired. If you have done with the cleaning and you have nothing to do. I don't see the harm. You guys don't even know what a lifeguard is like and most kids i work with it is there first time working so give them all a break. If its at an ocean yeah, they probably shouldn't be texting alongs on breaks. Some people have to get a hold of. And texting/phone use is the only way to get a hold of them.
Calm Down if they text when they are on break. Its not like they can actually watch the water from the break room. And a whistle pretty loud enough to hear from pretty much anywhere. Who cares about texting at work.
Personal cell phones (as well as "walkmans" or CD players) are prohibited on my LG stands. Cell phones are required to be left in the pool office until the LG's rotation is completed. If a parent or someone/anyone needs to get hold of the their child, my LG is instructed to have the parent call the pool office. The LG on duty will take the phone call; then, the LG will then be replaced on the LG stand to take the call. Cell phones (let alone texting) are a distraction in the LG stand that is simply not tollerated in my LG company.
Hi everyone, this issue doesn't seem to be going away. The Web is full of articles like this one from the NYT about deaths due to lifeguards texting. What can the industry do to combat this image of irresponsible lifeguards? And what policies need to be put in place to deal with texting guards?
While rules, regulations and even laws can attempt to change misguided human behavior, most people continue with actions that they know inherently carry the risk of negative consequences. These actions, such as texting while driving and now, in our industry, texting while guarding lives, is going to continue to be a problem.

It's just another example of why now is the time for this industry to embrace drowning detection technology such as the Wahooo Swim Monitor System or Poseidon.

Because in the end, it's not about the reason why a drowning victim was missed, be it a text message, an attractive bathing suit or distractive patron. It's about preventing it from happening at all, despite the inefficiencies of human behavior.
Throw the cell in the pool for a second offence, nothing is more important then a life. Any lawyer would eat up the chance of going after anyone involved : guard, manager, county, owner, board etc .
Simple, no phones while on duty (wearing the rescue tube, in the stand, on deck, sitting at the wading pool, etc). We have fired at least 6 people in two summers. That consistent action in itself is the best deterrent.
Same answer as I wroteabout cellphones a while back..."Not in the LG stand!" Period

Personal cell phones (as well as "walkmans" or CD players) are prohibited on my LG stands. Cell phones are required to be left in the pool office until the LG's rotation is completed. If a parent or someone/anyone needs to get hold of the their child, my LG is instructed to have the parent call the pool office. The LG on duty will take the phone call; then, the LG will then be replaced on the LG stand to take the call. Cell phones (let alone texting) are a distraction in the LG stand that is simply not tollerated in my LG company.

I do like the idea of "Drilling the offending LG with a cell phone during LG rotation..." One wet $300 I-Phone usually cures everybody..." And no, not a parent of any offending LG with a wet cell phone has ever called back to complain....

Our young lifeguards have taken up the habit of hanging out in the front area texting, playing games on the computer, and generally ignoring everything else.  They're late for their shifts and frequently --when I cannot find any guards to work-- I'll find a congregation of them up-front texting and gaming.

Few weeks ago, just a few short minutes before opening our staff still had not removed the covers from our wading pool and all chime in "YES" when I asked if we were ready to open.  Nearly all of the 7 people in the room were either on a cell phone gaming, texting, talking, or on a computer playing games.  One hadn't even made it onto the deck!

This is painful to say, but tolerance for that type of behavior is really hurting all of us, collectively, and making public funding of pools look foolhardy.

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