PKS, Emerald Isle leaders push for beach safety initiatives


CRYSTAL COAST, N.C. (WNCT) – Town leaders along the coast are on a mission to save lives on their beaches this summer.

New initiatives are being pushed after 10 people died in rip currents along North Carolina’s coast last year.

The town of Pine Knoll Shores saw one drowning last year. Town Mayor Ken Jones said a man was trying to rescue his children in the ocean. A bystander helped saved the kids, the man let go of a boogie board and drowned.

Jones said one life is too many and did not want to see another one be taken. So he and his team released the town’s beach safety efforts for this summer.

FLOAT DON’T FIGHT CAMPAIGN: the campaign seeks to empower beach goers with the tools to survive rip currents.

LIFE-SAVING EQUIPMENT: Floatation devices like cans will be placed at all 11 beach access points.

EMERGENCY BEACH ACCESS: a third access point on the western end of PKS will be installed. It will allow rescue vehicles and emergency personnel to deploy onto the beach. It will only be available for emergencies.

BEACH FLAG SYSTEM: the town and the three other beach communities will follow the same flag system. PKS will adhere to the United States Life Saving Association Standard.

TOWN ORDINANCE: the town will adopt an ordinance for enforcement of beach closures when necessary.

ELECTRIC SIGN WARNINGS: PKS will purchase a new mobile electric sign that will be placed at the entrance of town broadcasting surf conditions.

FREE PARKING FOR SURFERS: surfers will be welcomed to use the Memorial Park and Iron Steamer public beach access parking lots at no cost. The town states surfers are the firs to see swimmers in trouble and save lives throughout the summer season.

FREE BOOGIE BOARDS: available to all beach patrons at their two major beach access locations. One board per vehicle and to be returned on the same day.

Four drownings happened in the town of Emerald Isle in 2019. Town Mayor Eddie Barber said they’re doing everything they can to make their beach safer. Some of those efforts include:

BEACH FLAGS: this year 25 beach flags will wave from April 1st to October 31st. The same flag system will be used as the town of Pine Knoll Shores.

LIFEGUARDS: the town has increased its number of lifeguards to 20. ​Lifeguards will be on the beach strand between May 1 and September 30.

JEEPS: the town has purchased two new jeeps for lifeguards to patrol the beach.

DRONES: trained members of the Fire Department will utilize drone technology on ocean rescue calls. Drones will be utilized to serve as a secondary set of eyes in the sky.

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