A new partnership looks to save lives in Oak Island. Here are 4 things to know.

·2 min read

A newly announced project hopes to save lives at Oak Island beaches.

Following a string of deadly drownings this season, the Town of Oak Island has partnered with the Jack Helbig Memorial Foundation to install life-saving devices at Oak Island beaches.

This summer, four people died in drownings on the island's beaches. Oak Island law enforcement, emergency personnel and elected officials have been exploring ways to improve safety and educate beachgoers on dangerous water conditions.

Four drownings in three months:Oak Island looks to educate, improve beach safety

A new kind of beach patrol: Oak Island's new Beach Services Unit aids in public safety

Here's what you need to know about the gear coming soon to public beaches.

A newly announced project hopes to save lives at Oak Island beaches.
A newly announced project hopes to save lives at Oak Island beaches.

1. Life-saving gear already proving effective

According to an announcement this month, the Town of Oak Island is partnering with the Jack Helbig Memorial Foundation to install rescue tubes along Oak Island's ocean front.

"The rescue tubes can be used by a bystander attempting a rescue if they are unwilling or feel unable to wait for emergency personnel to arrive," the announcement said.

The gear has already proven to save lives.

Newly installed gear is already saving lives at Caswell Beach.
Newly installed gear is already saving lives at Caswell Beach.

According to a Facebook post from the Southport Fire Department, the newly installed life safety rings at Caswell Beach helped save the lives of two young girls this past weekend alone.

According to the post, a bystander noticed two young girls in danger. While waiting for emergency responders to arrive, a bystander was able to pull the girls to shore using the life safety rings installed at the beach as part of the partnership with the Jack Helbig Memorial Foundation.

2. Which accesses will receive gear?

Rescue tubes are set to be installed at all 65 public beach accesses in Oak Island.

Each installation will have English and Spanish instructions, and each station will be equipped with further educational materials, such as the current water conditions, information about what beach condition flags mean, what to do in an emergency, and the access location of the water safety station.

Oak Island signage shows beachgoers how to interpret the day's current hazards as indicated by flags flying along the beach.
Oak Island signage shows beachgoers how to interpret the day's current hazards as indicated by flags flying along the beach.

3. How to use the gear

According to the Jack Helbig Memorial Foundation, attempting to rescue a drowning person proves fatal for the bystander 25% of the time. One in four rescue attempts ends with the rescuer drowning. Typically, according to the foundation, this is a result of not using floatation devices.

"While we don’t encourage untrained persons to attempt a rescue, we recognize that it happens and want to make flotation available to reduce the risk of drowning," the foundation said.

Bystanders can toss these floatation devices to persons in danger in the ocean while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive at the scene of an emergency.

4. What is the Jack Helbig Memorial Foundation?

Founded in 2012 by Justin and Kelly Helbig in memory of their son, the Jack Helbig Memorial Foundation works to educate children and adults on the simple precautions that everyone can take to be safer around water.

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The Southport-based organization uses donations to fund educational materials, outreach efforts and partnerships.

Jamey Cross is the public safety reporter at the StarNews. Reach her at jbcross@gannett.com or message her on Twitter @jameybcross. 

This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: Oak Island beaches to receive rescue gear following recent drownings,