Myrtle Beach committee looks at lifeguards, umbrellas, policing to improve safety at the beach

Safety measure to prevent umbrellas flying to be implemented
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 9:49 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MYRTLE BEACH, SC. (WMBF) - The City of Myrtle Beach Beach Advisory Committee is working to make the beach better and safer every year.

The City of Myrtle Beach and Lack’s Beach Services is looking to hire more LGOs next summer, which stands for Lifeguard Only. Their position would only be to patrol the beach and water, rather than rent beach equipment and patrol.

RELATED | Lifeguarding in Myrtle Beach: Do changes need to be made?

“They start working now to recruit for next year, but lifeguarding is no different than any other business,” said Beach Advisory Committee Chairman Steve Taylor. “It’s hard to find people who want to do it. There were numerous articles this year that there was a lifeguard shortage for some reason but we filled them up pretty good. I think they had most of their staff that they needed or required to have.”

Lack’s Beach Services will implement a new policy in their handbook next year that their lifeguards will have to place their umbrellas 18-24 inches into the ground to ensure they don’t fly away.

“Part of our policy is the beach attendants are going to be walking their line looking for, a customer who may have pulled their umbrella out so it’s not packed in or a customer who has hung towels from their umbrella affecting its weight that it could come flying out of the ground,” said Lack’s General Manager Weslyn Lack-Chickering.

Earlier this summer, a 63-year-old Surfside Beach woman died from chest trauma after a beach umbrella was carried by the wind and impaled her in Garden City.

“Rarely does that happen and result in a serious injury,” said Taylor. “It’s kind of a freak thing, but it does happen and I think that Lack’s Beach Services came out with a policy to train their guards is a testament to their commitment to safety. The only way to prevent that is to make sure the umbrella is placed properly in the sand and if they can get it in there deeper it’s got less chance of blowing away.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there were roughly 2,800 unconfirmed beach umbrella-related injuries between 2010-2018.

From 2021 to 2022 calls for fireworks have gone down from 449 events to 304. In 2021 there were 106 missing person calls compared to 60 in 2022.

“I don’t believe that it was as crowded as it was in 21 where it was post-COVID,” said Taylor. “You know I think we had better staffing, which isn’t just a problem in the beach business, but I think we had more people down there and I think it went pretty good.”

In the Myrtle Beach Fire Department report, there were 18 people who were rescued this past summer compared to 41 in 2021.

“We have the department personnel down there every day,” said Taylor. “We have the police department. We have lifeguards on the beach. Somewhere between 80 and 100 lifeguards or personnel on the beach every day which is a lot for a 7-mile stretch of beach, but we’re working hard to keep improving Myrtle Beach.”