Wristbands save kids from being lost on beach

Published: Jul. 13, 2012 at 3:25 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2012 at 2:26 PM EDT
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NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) The city of North Myrtle Beach has a plan in place to keep kids from getting separated from their families on the beach, but not many people know about the program. Monty Reed, the North Myrtle Beach Lifeguard coordinator said the program has been in place for the past five years.

Dana Wilmouth had no idea the free wristbands were even available, and she said it could have saved her a major headache. Wilmouth stated, "It's the most awful feeling in the world because your heart feels like it's about to pop out of your throat and you are scared to death."

Wilmouth said she panicked when she lost sight of her four-year-old son while he was playing on the beach last summer. Wilmouth added, "He starts walking sideways with a little friend and he's coming back to find us and all the tents and umbrellas…it's a little bit hard for a four year old to understand."

Once Wilmouth knew about the program, she immediately went to the lifeguard to get a wristband for her son. Reed explained, "The lifeguard will write the tower number on the wristband so when the child gets lost they can refer to that wristband or if anybody finds that child they can know this child was near tower, such as '47'."

Reed said the main problem is few people know about it.  "Honestly we've been real busy this season and myself and other people haven't been able to focus on it like we should."

But Reed said the city plans to talk about how to better advertise the program to cut down on the high number of kids who get lost every summer season. Reed added,  "Maybe we can put it on some of our beach access signs, around the lifeguard towers signs…things like that where people are on the beach is probably the most impact it will do."

Reed goes on to explain that it costs about $400 each summer to pay for about 3,500 wristbands. He said that is minimal cost for something that could cut down on the high numbers of lost kids. "The amount of time it takes to find the child and the amount of time the parents are upset, sisters and brothers are upset would be greatly reduced."

Some would like to see the same program all along the Grand Strand. Wilmouth said, "It is a great safety feature for parents to feel like you know if something does happen somebody knows where to take them and we know where to go back."

The City of Myrtle Beach said they are looking at adopting a similar type of program, and they are considering how to pay for the wristbands.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.