State fixes lifeguard shortage before busy Memorial Day weekend

It is nearly a guarantee that Connecticut beaches will be packed this holiday weekend.
Published: May. 27, 2023 at 9:30 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Conn. (WFSB) - It is nearly a guarantee that Connecticut beaches will be packed this holiday weekend.

But, will there be a lifeguard on duty when you’re there? More than likely, yes.

Connecticut has more or less solved its lifeguard shortage problem, giving a sigh of relief to people like Jennifer Millington of Tolland. She spent the day Friday at Rocky Neck State Park with her family and friends.

“That’s why our group chooses Rocky Neck because the waves are less intense,” Millington said.

She’s grateful for lifeguards.

“It’s just good to have an extra set of eyes on our kids,” Millington said.

This holiday weekend, lifeguards will be on duty at Black Rock State Park, Hammonasset State Park, Rocky Neck State Park, Sherwood Island State Park, Silver Sands State Park and Squantz Pond State Park.

Missing from that list are Indian Well State Park and Burr Pond State Park. They will get lifeguards later in the year, just not in time for the holiday weekend.

“Come later in June when we have more of our guards available and out of school, full trained and done with everything,” CT Senior Beach Director Gretchen Stelter said, in reference to the roughly ten additional lifeguards ready to work with the 90 already in place.

So how did Connecticut go from pleading for lifeguards to closing applications?

“We did get a wonderful increase last year from $16 an hour to $19,” Stelter said.

This year, there’s another pay raise. State lifeguards will now earn $20 an hour while working at major state parks. At smaller state parks, there may be beaches but no lifeguards.

“There are signs posted about no lifeguards on duty,” Stelter said. “It’s really important that parents keep an eye on their kids and use proper flotation devices like lifejackets and not inflatable things.”

State lifeguards work Memorial Day through Labor Day.

“It would give me piece of mind if one of my kids were struggling to know that there’s somebody there watching,” Millington said.