Red Cross launches campaign to cut high drowning rate in Myrtle Beach area

According to the American Red Cross, the drowning rate in the Myrtle Beach area is more than double the national average.

As part of a new national campaign, the Red Cross is working to reduce the drowning rate by 50 percent over the next three to five years in the Myrtle Beach area, a news release said.

"You would be surprised that the little things that are common sense to all of us we may not think about when around pools, ponds or at the rivers. So we want to make sure everyone is as safe as possible and reduce the number of drownings," said Duke Brown, Horry County's Beach Safety Coordinator.

The campaign aims to teach a total of 50,000 more people in 50 selected cities, including Myrtle Beach, how to swim.

The campaign starts this year in Myrtle Beach and 9 other cities and will expand to 40 other cities within the next 5 years.

"In our efforts to reduce the drowning rate in Myrtle Beach, Red Cross is partnering with the City of Myrtle Beach's Recreation Department to teach swim safety, says Nanci Conley, executive director, Coastal SC Chapter, Palmetto SC Region. "We are committed to working with the City to make a significant impact in swimming safety in our community."

The City of Myrtle Beach holds swim lessons throughout the year and offers classes with Red Cross certified instructors.

"We are very excited to partner with the American Red Cross to lower the drowning rate in our area," said Kathy Anderson, CPRP, Aquatic Supervisor, City of Myrtle Beach. "The City of Myrtle Beach is committed to doing all we can do to build awareness of water safety and teach our community to swim."

Nanci Conley, with the Coastal Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross says part of the new campaign includes training more lifeguards.

Right now swimming lessons are offered through the City of Myrtle Beach's Recreation Department. A list of classes offered can be found here.

Conley said they are in the development stage of future partnerships to expand the swimming classes offered.