Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue launches ocean safety classes for kids - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue launches ocean safety classes for kids

Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue is teaching kids how to swim in rip currents. (Source: WMBF News) Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue is teaching kids how to swim in rip currents. (Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue is fed up with the amount of drownings in Myrtle Beach.  

In reaction to those numbers, Myrtle Beach Water Rescue began water safety classes Thursday for kids that specifically focus on how to swim out of a rip current.

Lt. Christian Sliker, spokesman for Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue, said the water squad has gotten 70 calls for help this year alone.

Twenty-four of those calls ended with rescuing someone in the water or at the beach. 

“When we looked at the data and the problem we were having, we wanted to target our citizens," Silker said. "We wanted to make sure that we can get to our youth. Our youth are our greatest educators. They go home and tell their parents, their parents tell their friends." 

On Thursday, some members of the squad went to Pepper Geddings Recreation Center to teach about 100 kids how to beat a rip current and discuss general ocean safety.  Recreation director Paige Geddings said many children coming through the camp surprisingly don't know how to swim.

“We asked them a minute ago and a lot of them really didn’t even know what it was," Geddings said. "It’s just important for us to teach them and educate them about it." 

The water rescuers let the kids test out life-saving floats and pulled them around in the water to test their reactions. The team said teaching is easy, it’s actually remembering how to react if a rip current happens that’s more difficult.

“We’re hoping that education and prevention will be key, especially the children, if something does happen in a similar situation," said Capt. Henry Hickman, water rescuer. "They’ll remember that day with the fireman; if this happens, this is what I should do." 

Sliker said children should always swim with a friend, make sure to stay chest deep and check in with the lifeguards.  

"We have great beach services out there that will actually tell you what the water hazards are for the day and also if there’s any type of dangers in the ocean that you can look for," he said.

Sliker added the water rescue squad plans to have a future ocean safety course for kids.  

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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