sprinkler to crop

“NO LIFEGUARD” Sign at…Sprinkler Park?

This “WARNING dytetnashf
sign comes to us from Ron Lieber, author of the “The Opposite of Spoiled.” He spied it at a Park City, Utah, rec center next to a kiddie splash pad where there is no pool anywhere in sight. Consider it a stark reminder that we have not only gone crazy with fear about unlikely dangers, we’re also crazed with fear about about unlikely lawsuits. Or maybe there’s some kind of “warning sign mentality” that is the modern-day equivalent of putting a horseshoe on the wall for good luck: Can’t hurt!

By the by, read more about Lieber’s book here: www.ronlieber.com. And join the conversation about how, when and why to talk to kids about money here: www.facebook.com/ronlieberauthor


Look closely. The sign at this sprinkler park says, “NO LIFEGUARD.” But what if a child is drowning in, um, a water droplet?


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30 Responses to “NO LIFEGUARD” Sign at…Sprinkler Park?

  1. Jessica August 29, 2017 at 10:05 am #

    My husband is a lawyer and this kind of thing drives him bananas. People who clearly have no idea how the law works, constantly putting up signs and making policies “for liability reasons.” Eyeroll.

  2. Theresa Hall August 29, 2017 at 10:21 am #

    It a sprinkler park. Worst that happens is that some kid slips while running and hits their head. Not much call for a lifeguard.

  3. Emily August 29, 2017 at 10:28 am #

    Well, for one thing, sprinkler parks aren’t completely safe–it’s easy for kids to get excited, forget what they’ve been told about walking on slippery pavement, and start running–to meet a friend, to play with a sprinkler that was previously occupied, whatever–and then slip and fall. Maybe their adults brought Band-Aids, maybe not….but that sign reminds the adults to actually supervise their kids, and maybe bring Band-Aids in case of a slip and fall. I don’t think that that’s unreasonable, because sprinkler parks are mostly aimed at the five-and-under set, and an adult escorting kids that age at the sprinkler park (and providing an age-appropriate level of supervision while playing) is common sense, not helicoptering. For another thing, is there a chance that there used to be a pool (or even just a wading pool) where the sprinkler park stands now, where a “no lifeguard on duty” sign might have been warranted, and the construction crew just didn’t bother to take down the sign when they changed the pool to a sprinkler park? If it’s a new sign that was posted at the same time the sprinkler park was built, then yes, it’s overkill……and yes, I agree that a sprinkler park isn’t as good as a pool, because pools (at least real ones with enough depth for swimming) can be fun for people from infant age up through adulthood (and even older adults), and they can provide real exercise, but a sign warning the absence of a lifeguard at a sprinkler park strikes me as being silly, and even kind of funny, but not an outrage.

  4. David N. Brown August 29, 2017 at 10:44 am #

    In fairness, there would be risks of slips, falls and the like, not to mention the known hazards of “slip n slides”. The reasonable solution is to have an advisory not to leave kids totally unsupervised.

  5. Workshop August 29, 2017 at 11:16 am #

    Summon Sarcasm . . .

    But it is totally possible for a child to drown in 1/32 inch of water. I know that because I read it on a Scared Mommy blog! And water droplets are more than 1/32 inch long, so it really makes sense that lifeguards should be on duty. After all, how bad would you feel if you child dry-drowned after a day at the splash pad?

    Spell Duration Expires

    Neither of my children want to swim (they have a fear of their hair getting wet – bath times are lots of fun . . . ). So a splash pad is great for them. If I take them, I let them go and read a book. I keep an eye out to make sure there aren’t kids taking advantage of smaller kids. One time that happened, and I told my son to turn, shout at the bully, and not back down. Worked great. My wife, though, is more helicoptery. Eh, it is what it is.

    Stupidity is like a hydra – stop one stupid thing and two more things pop up.

  6. James Pollock August 29, 2017 at 11:17 am #

    I don’t understand the concern.

    Now, if there WAS a lifeguard on duty…

  7. BL August 29, 2017 at 11:59 am #

    Warning! This facility uses DHMO!

  8. jimc5499 August 29, 2017 at 12:13 pm #

    Things like this always give me a cynical laugh.
    Several years ago a company I worked for had it’s annual picnic. The place that they chose had a pool. On the day of the picnic the lifeguard that they had hired didn’t show up. I volunteered to be the lifeguard. I was told that I couldn’t because I wasn’t qualified and they didn’t want the liability problems if something happened. The kid they had hired was 18 and had the Red Cross Lifeguard Class. I was 42 had an EMT certification and was a former Navy helicopter Combat Search and Rescue swimmer. Nobody swam that day.

  9. Lightbright August 29, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

    @Jessica I can see where this would drive your husband crazy. At my apartment complex, employees are constantly telling my kids to stop doing pretty much anything fun, (e.g. climbing trees, building forts) because “we could get sued.” Our resident contract actually indemnifies them. So at its core, this phrase is simply used to control others.

  10. Elisabeth Hensley August 29, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    Well, maybe there are drinking fountains nearby.

  11. mer August 29, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    Coming next to the nearest water fountain: a lifeguard in a chair complete with whistle and life saving float.

  12. Backroads August 29, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

    Sadly, this is the norm for Utah. This past summer we did a weekly open invitation meet-up at the local splash pad. Us parents regularly made fun of the “no lifeguard” sign.

  13. SteveS August 29, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

    I wonder if they just got tired of telling people there wasn’t a lifeguard on duty and put up a sign.

  14. Harrow August 29, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

    Let us remember that the most vital duty of a lifeguard, based on the amount of time they spend doing it, is to shout “No running!” at every opportunity. (We may poke fun at this but it actually prevents many minor injuries.)

    Rescuing someone from a watery grave is just something they do occasionally, if it happens to come up.

    This sign is a reminder that somebody has to shout “No running!” at your kids when they play on a hard wet surface, and with no staffer on hand, you’re gonna have to shout it yourself.

  15. Emily August 29, 2017 at 2:16 pm #

    >>Coming next to the nearest water fountain: a lifeguard in a chair complete with whistle and life saving float.<<

    Better make it two lifeguards–what if the first lifeguard gets thirsty and drowns?

  16. Dienne August 29, 2017 at 2:53 pm #

    “Better make it two lifeguards–what if the first lifeguard gets thirsty and drowns?”

    Better make it three. One to stay with the drowning lifeguard, one to go get help. Oh, but what if the one who goes to get help falls and gets hurt? Better make it four….

  17. Aimee August 29, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

    One of my favorite SNL sketches: Jim Carrey, Jacuzzi Lifeguard. Enjoy: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/jacuzzi-lifeguard/n10864?snl=1

  18. Claudia August 29, 2017 at 4:31 pm #

    @Aimee I was just about to post the same SNL skit.

  19. Donald August 29, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

    I have a story similar to this. It doesn’t involve water but it does show bureaucracy going mad.
    My brother owns a sign shop and had a very strange request for a sign. The customer asked for a handicap bathroom sign that was also written in braille.

    The sign itself is not the ridiculous part that I’m talking about. I’m questioning his need for one. The city is making him display it in his small business (1 employee) where he mixes chemicals for swimming pools. His bathroom isn’t open to the public. However, without that sign, he’s discriminating against hiring blind employees to mix the dangerous chemicals for him!

  20. Paul August 29, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

    Look at the size of it. And what about the sign on the left with a gazillion words in small print? Is that a list of safety rules for the splash sprinkler?

  21. Donald August 29, 2017 at 5:22 pm #

    Playing at a water droplet playground without a lifeguard on duty may be hazardous. However, I’ll tell you about something that is truly dangerous! The chocolate sprinkles on a cappuccino is a choking hazard! There have been several times when I very carefully sip the coffee (because it’s too hot) and breath in the chocolate dust! Luckily this sudden and unexpected coughing fit didn’t make me spill the very hot coffee on me and cause 2nd-degree burns! There should be a warning sign against this hazard!

  22. pentamom August 29, 2017 at 5:41 pm #

    These decisions are probably not ad hoc in the sense that somebody saw a sprinkler park and said, “We really need a no lifeguard sign there.” More likely, there’s a code of regulations or city policy somewhere that says that all water-based recreational venues must either be guarded or give notice of not being guarded.

  23. Trollbuster August 29, 2017 at 7:50 pm #


  24. elizabeth August 29, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

    Donald, thats ridiculous. And i bet he would violate several safety regulations if he did hire someone who was legally blind.

  25. Dienne August 29, 2017 at 10:01 pm #

    Trollbuster, what the hell do you contribute around here? Love him, hate him or some of both, at least Mr. Pollock actually contributes to the discussion at hand. If anyone needs to go, it’s you. The sooner the better, please.

  26. Emily August 29, 2017 at 11:22 pm #

    Dienne, I agree with you that Trollbuster is (ironically) a troll, but I think the best way to get rid of trolls, is to ignore them.

  27. Helen Armstrong August 30, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

    Three 11-year-old girls saved a 13-year-old and 20-year-old from the ocean in Canada recently, which is a very admirable, brave, and free-range thing to do. It would make a good article for this website.

  28. En Passant August 31, 2017 at 2:19 pm #

    Harrow wrote August 29, 2017 at 2:14 pm:

    Let us remember that the most vital duty of a lifeguard, based on the amount of time they spend doing it, is to shout “No running!” at every opportunity. …

    … This sign is a reminder that somebody has to shout “No running!” at your kids when they play on a hard wet surface, and with no staffer on hand, you’re gonna have to shout it yourself.

    I think that is a good point. The sign is the bad outcome of a bureaucratic process in which bureaucrats decided how to handle a new phenomenon (sprinkler parks) based upon the only rules they had ever known to exist around bodies of water. They forgot the purpose of having rules. No bureaucrat had the common sense and gumption to say, “let’s require a sign that says SLIPPERY SURFACE — NO RUNNING”.

  29. Kimberly Albertson August 31, 2017 at 10:02 pm #

    Many years ago (about 9 or 10, I would guess), a small child drowned in the wading pool at Great America, which is an amusement park in my area. Apparently, he’d slipped beneath the water and in all the frenzy of a water park, no one noticed. Anyway, the powers that be at Great America decided their lifeguards needed to be retrained (which isn’t necessarily a bad idea when a tragedy happens: analyze the situation and see if anything needs to be fixed). About a year later, I took my kids to Great America and we spent a few hours at the water park. While the kids were playing in the water, my attention was completely on the lifeguards.

    I wish I still had access to the video which I ended up posting on my MySpace account.

    I guess the retraining had focused on the lifeguards keeping their attention 100% on the water at all times. To ensure this, the lifeguards were given specific points around the pool they were to make eye-contact with, apparently in a specific order. Each lifeguard on duty was moving their head up and down, back and forth, in the same pattern, constantly — never wavering, never looking away, nothing. It was all kinda freaky to watch.

    As I was recording it, I couldn’t help but think: If they’re so concentrated on hitting these visual marks, how are they going to notice anything that’s happening anywhere else?

  30. Kimberly Albertson September 1, 2017 at 2:44 am #

    This isn’t the video I recorded, but I found one that someone else posted on YouTube that was taken at the park by my home.


    Other videos posted on YouTube suggest that this is the SOP at corporate amusement and water parks. I can understand the idea behind it, but from my own personal experience, I know that if I’m doing the same repetitive motion over a period of time, I stop paying attention to what it is I’m doing. It’s a type of hypnosis, similar to when you drive home and then realize that you don’t remember anything about the drive.

    I will say this, my youngest was about 4 at the time we last went to the wave pool area of the park and instead of watching him while he was in the water (that a 4 year old had drowned in the year before), I was completely mesmerized by the lifeguards.