If we lose Folly Beach County Park we lose one of the only lifeguarded areas on Charleston County beaches.

Currently, the only guarded areas are those run by Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission — Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, Isle of Palms County Park and the area from 3rd Street East to 4th Street West on Folly Beach.

This season the guards in those areas made 181 total rescues, treated over 140 major first aids and 3,000 jellyfish stings, found 249 missing persons and performed 16,209 preventive actions.

It is statistically proven that swimming in a lifeguarded area is much safer than swimming in unguarded areas. The U.S. Lifesaving Association has calculated the chance that a person will drown while attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated lifeguards at 1 in 18 million.

The USLA is America’s nonprofit, professional association of beach lifeguards and open water rescuers. Charleston County PRC has been a USLA certified agency since 1994.

The summer of 2012 marked the first summer that we haven’t provided ocean rescue lifeguards at Folly Beach County Park since it opened in 1982.

Since we started keeping rescue statistics we have made 454 rescues, provided first aid for 1,719 people, found 493 missing persons and performed 43,833 preventive actions, all at Folly Beach County Park.

If we hadn’t provided a safe place for families to swim, we would be looking at drowning statistics instead.

I began my career with CCPRC in 1986 as a lifeguard at Folly Beach, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

I hope the citizens of Charleston County feel the same and will support Charleston County PRC in our endeavor to continue to provide a safe, family-oriented atmosphere.

Nikki Bowie

Safety Program Manager

Charleston County Park

and Recreation Commission

Riverland Drive

Charleston