Summertime is finally here which means our beaches will become popular destinations for some fun in the sun! The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) operates Folly Beach County Park (FBCP), Isle of Palms County Park (IOPCP), Folly Beach Commercial District (3rd St. West to 2nd St. East) and Kiawah Beachwalker Park (KBP) which all offer seasonally lifeguarded ocean access. Even with highly trained lifeguard staff on hand, it is crucial for beach-goers to familiarize themselves with important safety tips to help reduce the number of accidents that occur on beaches.
While CCPRC lifeguards are trained and on alert for swimmers in trouble, parents are strongly advised to keep a constant watch on their children at all times. With schools closing for the summer, CCPRC recommends that parents teach their children to always look for the lifeguards in the event that they get separated from their parents. Parents are to report missing children to the lifeguard staff immediately so that the search process can begin. In 2017 alone, 163 people reported missing were found at CCPRC beaches thanks to lifeguard staff.
CCPRC offers the only public guarded beaches in Charleston County and therefore recommends always swimming under the careful watch of these ocean lifeguards. Last year, out of the 64 rescues made, 57 of them were due to rip currents. It is essential for beach-goers to learn how to identify rip currents and be able to escape from them. Lifeguards are currently on duty at the beach parks (IOPCP, FBCP and KBP) every day from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. through mid-August.
Rip currents are identified by choppy and different colored water, a break in a wave pattern or foam and seaweed moving out towards the sea. CCPRC advises swimmers not to panic or swim against the current if you are caught in one. The best way to escape is to swim along the shoreline and swim back to the shore in a diagonal direction to move away from the rip current. In addition, swimmers are urged to wave to get the lifeguards’ attention so they can assist in a rescue.
When storms arise at the beach, lightning strikes are possible. If lightning is spotted within 10 miles of a county beach park, everyone must exit the beaches and seek shelter. The beaches cannot be re-opened until there is a 30 minute buffer following the last lightning strike and the all-clear is given.
Other Helpful Tips:
· Observe and obey lifeguard warning flags and signs
· Be aware of hazardous water conditions at all times
· Wear sunscreen and sunglasses to prevent harmful sun exposure
· Keep our beaches and oceans clean!
Flags and Symbols:
· Red over Yellow: Designated lifeguarded swimming area between flags.
· Yellow: Use caution. Rough water or possible dangerous sea life.
· Yellow with Black Circle: Surfboards and other non-powered watercraft are prohibited.
· Red: No swimming. The water is closed due to dangerous currents, severe storms or lighting. Possible dangerous sea life.
· Purple: Sea pests. There are a higher than normal number of dangerous marine animals in the water (this is not intended to notify of the presence of sharks)
For more safety tips and additional information about CCPRC’s beach parks, visit CharlestonCountyParks.com.