Myrtle Beach lifeguards change operation to manage summer heat

Published: Jul. 31, 2021 at 9:19 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A heat index in the triple digits didn’t keep people from flocking to the beach to cool off Friday.

”My favorite park was looking for shark teeth,” said Ellie Baudee, who’s visiting Myrtle Beach with her family.

Baudee says she’s visited the beach from her home up in Connecticut lots of times.

She was able to find six shark teeth on this vacation, but she had to admit, it got a little hot while she was searching.

“It’s very hot, but at least there’s a breeze to keep us cool,” said Baudee.

For the Myrtle Beach lifeguards, hot days with a breeze can be the most dangerous.

“We call this sneaky heat on a day like today because the wind is blowing. So you’re not melting, but you’re still sweating and losing a ton of energy and dehydration is a real possibility,” said Weslyn Lack-Chickering, General Manager of Lack’s Beach Service.

As the temperature climbs, Lack’s has changed its operation a bit to make sure lifeguards are as safe as the people they’re watching.

Lack-Chickering says their lifeguards have had to focus on the beach more and more lately, even helping a few people suffering from heat exhaustion.

“Every manager has a cooler full of ice-cold water,” said Lack-Chickering. “We also have towels. When we have our beachgoers who are starting to get overheated or dealing with heat-related issues, we can dip those towels in cold water to get them settled down.”

While people can always pack up and leave when they’ve had enough of the heat, lifeguards have no choice but to spend the whole day in the sun.

In order to help combat some of this heat, Lack’s extended each of the lifeguard’s breaks by five minutes, but there’s a catch.

They have to get up out of the chairs and spend at least five minutes either in the air conditioning or in the water to cool off.

“Spend at least five minutes cooling down your core, so that when you come back out here, you’ll be hydrated and healthy,” said Lack-Chickering.

If those extra five minutes aren’t enough, Lack’s will send a manager out to man the post until the lifeguard feels better.

Lack’s managers are also riding around with coolers full of water and electrolyte pills to keep the guards fueled up.

That way, Baudee can keep finding more shark teeth, and know that someone’s watching to make sure she’s okay.

Lack’s is also telling beachgoers to keep an eye out for jellyfish. They’ve seen a lot recently, and have started keeping vinegar water at the beach in case anyone gets stung.

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