Coast Guard warns about water safety after 9 deaths in 2 weeks in mid-Atlantic

The Baltimore Sun

Nine people have died in the waters of the mid-Atlantic in the past two weeks, according to the Coast Guard. The death of the 52-year-old boater in Ocean City last weekend was the latest in a string of drownings and boating accidents so far this summer - and technically, summer doesn't officially begin until June 21.

The Coast Guard notes that several of the fatalities involved boaters who were not wearing life jackets. According to Coast Guard statistics, such drownings caused 75 percent of all boating deaths in 2010 and of those who drowned, 88 percent were not wearing life jackets.

The dangers for swimmers are no less. On May 31 in Virginia Beach, a 9-year-old boy died after getting caught in a rip current. Another young swimmer died in a rip current at Bradley Beach, N.J., on June 9.

Add to the grim statistics a report that Delaware officials officials are struggling to fill lifeguard slots at the state's beaches.  

The News Journal of Wilmington reported that there are 19 openings and only nine applicants for lifeguard duty at Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware Seashore State Park and Fenwick Island State Park.

Part of the problem is the salary. The pay is a flat $10 an hour, but officials say nearby municipalities pay more, starting at $11 and increasing for those with experience.

A spokesperson for Ocean City said the town has filled all of its lifeguard positions for the summer.

The Coast Guard is encouraging beachgoers and boaters to be aware of the dangers. Swimmers should know the signs of a rip current and how to escape one. Boaters should take vessel safety classes and get a free safety check from the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad