NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The area beach patrol is working to ensure there are enough lifeguards monitoring North Myrtle Beach beaches ahead of the summer season.
Lifeguards won't be there for a few more weeks, but when they do take that seat, beach patrol officers in North Myrtle Beach are confident they'll have the beaches covered.
"If we have at least 100, we're looking good," Ofc. May Lauzon said. "We'll have a fully-staffed beach."
Right now, Lauzon said North Myrtle Beach has met that goal.
"We find that lifeguards, once they start working for us, they realize this is probably one of the most fun jobs they will ever have," she said.
However, it's not always easy. While recruiting, beach patrol finds a lot of students are looking for a summer job that is more career-oriented. That is why they are are introducing the benefit of having the junior lifeguard program for 10- to 15-year-old students.
"We try to get them excited about it from a young age, and hopefully we can bring those children up through the program to where they grow up to be lifeguards," Lauzon said.
According to Lauzon, she is noticing a lot of junior lifeguards are continuing training to become on-duty lifeguards.
"They say, 'I only have two years left! I only have three years left!' Most of them can't wait to turn 16 when they can start to work with us," she said.
Lauzon also stressed the importance of the flag system, where the yellow, green and red flags indicate how rough or calm the water might be.
"And if you see a red flag, I definitely want to encourage you to talk to your lifeguard because that means we are having a surf advisory," she said.
Lauzon said lifeguards are trained to spot rip currents and will alert beachgoers and their families to them as well.
Another big benefit of sitting near a lifeguard has to do with one of the most frequent calls, lost children.
"Visit our lifeguards and they can give them a wrist band, they can write down a number on that wrist band, and that will coordinate that with either the lifeguard stand, or the avenue," Lauzon said. "So that way when a lost child is located, we know right where to bring them back. We don't have to go looking for the parents."
While lifeguards won't hit the beach until May 15, beach patrol officers are already patrolling them and ready to assist.
For those with children interested in the junior lifeguard program, it starts June 12. Call (843) 280-5684 or email Officer Lauzon at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.