Officials stress water safety at Carson Beach event

State officials joined beachgoers in South Boston on a sunny 80-degree afternoon on Fri., May 24, to talk about water safety and services on the waterfront before the start of the Memorial Day weekend.

Brian Arrigo, commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, said, “We’re here today to highlight some of the work that the Healey-Driscoll administration is doing to ensure that those folks that enjoy our spaces have a fun and safe experience.” He added, “Over the next month, we’ll expand our lifeguard services to 32 of our waterfronts and our pools.”

The next day, certified lifeguards took their posts at 16 of those guarded properties, one of which is Carson Beach. They receive Red Cross training for pools, beaches, and waterfronts as well as 16 hours of additional training over the national standard. This year, DCR continued to enhance its team by recruiting and hiring bilingual lifeguards and water safety staff. 

At the talk session, Rebecca Tepper, the state’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, encouraged residents to join the lifeguard team. “As you may know, the Healey-Driscoll administration has continued to offer competitive pay and bonuses with hourly rates ranging from $22 to $27. This is not just a job; it’s an opportunity to develop important skills,” said Tepper. “We are still hiring for the summer, so we encourage you to apply.”

State Sen. Nick Collins noted that he once worked as a lifeguard at Carson Beach and to this day, he said, it was his favorite job. State Rep. David Biele offered that “with warm weather upon us we’re anticipating thousands of visitors to our wonderful beaches, pools, and natural resources and amenities here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

In addition to continuously onboarding lifeguards, DCR is also improving signage throughout each property. “There is a new detail on the visitor sign here at Carson Beach. It welcomes visitors to the beach in nine different languages,” Arrigo said. “We’re adding those details and additional signage to beaches all across the Commonwealth.” The languages include Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, Traditional Chinese, Arabic, Cape Verdean Creole, Mandarin, and Russian.

While signs help encourage water safety, several officers stressed taking these precautions seriously. Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Michael Pederson explained that each year he and other police respond to reports of drownings across the commonwealth, most of which could have been prevented.  He said one way to avert tragedy is to be self-aware and conscious of your surroundings.

“Understand your limits as a swimmer. If you cannot swim do not go under the water without a flotation device. Be conscious of currents and other moving water,” was his advice to everyone. “And always wear a flotation device while boating. Wearing one similar to a seatbelt in a vehicle is a necessary safety measure.” 

Morgan Mattioli, a Massachusetts Environmental Police Officer, emphasized the importance of abiding by boating protocols. “The easiest and most efficient way to prevent boating deaths is to wear a life jacket,” she said.

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