Memorial Day is the traditional kick off for summer and people head to the beach, flop their towels and stay there for the whole summer.
I grew up in Myrtle Beach, SC and the thing I always took for granted was the life guards. Ever-present, I could count on hearing a whistle blow should anyone venture too far beyond the breakers. If there were riptides and rough water, they made sure people stayed out of the water. It just happened.
What I didn’t realize that having lifeguards on the beach was more of an exception than a rule on most public beaches. I learned a hard way a few years ago when several years ago, a weekend long rash of riptides along the Gulf Coast of Florida claimed eight lives in two days. One of them was my best friend’s husband.
Their 12 year old son was playing on a boogey board in the shallows and was sucked out to sea by the riptide. His father and another man went to save him. The two adults drown while luckily the board helped save the son.
There were no lifeguards on Grayton Beach.
And it’s shocking how many beaches don’t have them. I don’t get it. To me, there is no excuse not to have lifeguards on a public beach. I can’t tell you how many people come to the beach for the first time each year. They may know how to swim, but swimming in the ocean is a whole different thing. There are tides and there are riptides. It’s a big place out there and it’s easy for someone to run into problems and go unnoticed by others.
That’s why you need lifeguards to keep a watchful eye and to offer assistance.
In most resort towns which have lifeguards, the service is subcontracted by the city and paid for through taxes. Money well spent in my book.
Think about it. Towns with beaches make money off of tourists. No one would even blink at adding a special occupancy tax to pay for such services. If you are paying $150 a night for a room (or more), what would $1 more a night mean? Wouldn’t you want to know there is a certified lifeguard who is watching over you and your family’s safety?
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