OCBP reminds beachgoers of off-season dangers

As we approach beach season, patrol agencies around the Eastern Shore are hard at work getting their lifeguards trained and ready to go.

However, off-season certainly appeals to some beach-goers.

"Typically it's better to come off season because there's less people, less crowding," says Salisbury resident Moriah Cullen.

There may be less people, but there are even fewer lifeguards.

Lieutenant Ward Kovacs of the Ocean City Beach Patrol tells 47ABC lifeguards don't hit the stands until Memorial Day weekend. At their peak, they'll have 92 lifeguard chairs on the beach plus supervisors roaming on ATV's. It's a different story off-season.

"We have people who coming into town on weekends and they're helping to get ready for the summer, stocking our buildings and things like that. Making sure our equipment bags are packed for the guards who are coming back from school but for right now, I'm the only one here," explains Lieutenant Kovacs.

According to Lieutenant Kovacs, their training academy kicks off the week before Memorial Day but until then beachgoers are asked to follow a rule that's simple and direct.

"Keep your feet in the sand until the lifeguard's in the stand," says Kovacs. "Even people who come to the beach, they're not always able to identify rip currents and things like that or get out of one if they get caught in one and anywhere ocean meets land, you can have the danger of rip currents."

According to the Ocean City Beach Patrol, rip currents are the third leading cause of weather-related deaths.

"They [rip currents] don't wait until Memorial Day. You can have rip currents throughout the year, so that's the biggest danger we have out in the ocean. If we're not on duty, we can't come and help you," says Kovacs.

When they are on duty, Kovacs says they'll be ready to assist beachgoers like Austin Murphy for a safe and fun summer.

"I love Ocean City," says Murphy. "As long as the weather's cooperative, it's one of the reasons why I come down to the beach. It's to come down to the water."

Kovacs says lifeguards will be on-duty everyday this season from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. They'll be on-duty through Sunfest weekend which is usually the third weekend following Labor Day in September. 

Categories: Local News, Maryland