CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. (WECT) – Memorial Day is expected to have beautiful weather, which means plenty of pools and beaches will be crowded. In Carolina Beach, lifeguards are training in some challenging conditions for the unofficial start of summer.
Lifeguards say they are welcoming a new crew to help during the Memorial Day weekend, but impending storms could put a damper on those plans, with dangerous conditions during a time when thousands of tourists flock to the beach.
“Super dangerous conditions. The wave period is going to be short as well so it’s gonna be very rough out there and then with the increased rip current risk as well so we always advise you are coming to the beach and talk to a lifeguard before you enter the water,” Mia Hulgin, the head lifeguard in Carolina Beach, said.
Hulgin is in charge of training 35 new lifeguards to join the team and, while she still won’t have full ranks, her numbers are better than most with a nationwide shortage in lifeguards fueled by everything from low wages to lack of training.
Swimmers across the country are left to look out for themselves because of the lifeguard shortage, which is being felt in beach towns, community pools and even state parks.
“We have one lifeguard and then Ranger staff. Really, these park visitors need to be really concerned about their own safety until we get some lifeguards, they have to be making good decisions about their own safety because we’re going to be very limited in our ability to be guarding the beach,” Kip Futch, an NC State Park Ranger of Ft. Fisher Beach, said.
Hulgin says part of that personal responsibility swimmers should keep in mind is to respect the water, know how to identify rip currents and heed warnings.
“Make sure you know the flag color out here on Carolina Beach. Also if we are flying red flags, we recommend that you stay knee-deep with waves crashing at the waist and not any deeper than that because it’s very easy to get swept off your feet if you’re deeper than that,” Hulgin said.
Carolina Beach lifeguards could not stress enough the dangers in the water this weekend and advise anyone who has any questions about the conditions to ask a lifeguard before getting into the water.
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