Lifeguards prepare to keep visitors safe during summer season

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - From North Myrtle Beach to Garden City, lifeguards play an important role in summer safety.

But for beaches like those in Pawleys Island, lifeguards are not on duty and swimmers enter the ocean at their own risk.

In Horry County, more than 30 miles of beach are supervised by lifeguards.

The county said lifeguards are required to be stationed along parts of the beaches from May 15 and usually stay on patrol until mid-September.

While the Grand Strand stretches along the ocean, the county is responsible for approximately 14 miles of beach, mostly unincorporated land, such as Garden City.

However, Pawleys Island, which falls inside Georgetown County, does not have lifeguards on duty.

The city said it's not financially feasible, but the town's police officers are trained in water rescue. Over the weekend, 18-year-old swimmer Ivan Reyes Tagui drowned Saturday while swimming with two others. His body was recovered Saturday night on Pawleys Island, making his the first drowning death of the 2018 tourism season.

Bigger cities and towns like North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach are responsible for hiring their own lifeguards.

One lifeguard company who works with the city of Myrtle Beach said the number of lifeguards assigned to a portion of the beach has a lot to do with how populated the beach is.

"Downtown is always busy, especially during the summer. We have those lifeguard stands about 25 to 35 yards apart," said Libor Jedlicka, with Lacks Beach Service.

It's also very important to pay attention to the lifeguards' flags, which are posted at each beach access in Myrtle Beach even if the lifeguard is not assigned to that access.

Below is a map showing all the locations along the Grand Strand where lifeguards are stationed:

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