BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Following multiple recent drowning accidents across Massachusetts, the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has decided to increase lifeguard pay from $17-$18 an hour to $20-$21 an hour.
Lifeguards who work a full season with DCR will also earn a $500 bonus.
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, who said she was a former lifeguard, announced the pay raise Friday on Pleasure Bay Beach in Boston.
"We've seen coming out of this pandemic a real shortage of lifeguards, not only across our state but even across the country," Theoharides said. "The job is a good one. The job is an important one and it can be a great way to earn a living during the summer or even year-round."
So far this year, Colonel Christopher Mason of the Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) reported that his team has investigated 24 drownings.
“Many of these could have been prevented,” said Col. Mason. “It seems that our detectives or our dive team are responding to a drowning incident several times per week. And we are not even one week into the summer season.”
"It only takes a moment for a fun-filled day to turn tragic. We were sadly reminded of this yesterday with the heartbreaking drowning of a young man at Turtle Pond— one of too many drownings that have occurred already this year," Theoharides said.
Theoharides also provided the following safety tips for swimmers and boaters:
- When visiting a state waterfront, swim within the designated swim areas. They are indicated by ropes and buoys.
- When swimming in the ocean, be aware of riptides. If caught in a rip current, swim across the current, parallel to the beach. Don’t swim against the current.
- Always use the buddy system when swimming.
- Always keep a close eye on children.
- All pools, including private pools, should be secured with appropriate barriers to prevent small children from entering without supervision.
- When boating, wear a life jacket.
- Never operate a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
To apply for a Massachusetts lifeguard job:www.mass.gov/forms/lifeguard-application
WBZ NewsRadio's Kendall Buhl (@WBZKendall) reports: