Lifeguard shortage affects Carolina beaches after Labor Day

Published: Sep. 4, 2023 at 9:16 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - As summer comes to a close, so does lifeguard season.

This means beaches in our area will be affected by a lifeguard shortage soon after Labor Day. In the summertime, there are up to 20 lifeguards patrolling, now that number could be as few as four. Officials are hopeful that up to 10 lifeguards are on the beaches during weekends.

Many lifeguards are high school and college students, or seasonal workers. This means come September, many head back to school and other jobs.

Shawn Kelly, captain of the Carolina Beach Ocean Rescue, says the remaining lifeguards are full-time seasoned veterans. They tend to be stronger and willing to take on the extra work. The guards will split the beach into zones to keep ocean safety under control.

“The seasoned vets who are here, they’ve been doing this for five plus years or more, so no stress on them. It’s the same day over and over again,” Kelly said.

Kelly said that regardless if there’s a lifeguard on duty, beachgoers should always stay aware and alert while swimming in the ocean.