By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — With a nationwide shortage of lifeguards and several high-profile drownings taking place across Massachusetts this month, the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation will be increasing lifeguard pay from $17-$18 an hour to $20-$21 an hour.

Also, lifeguards who work a full season with the DCR will be able to earn a bonus of $500.

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Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides made the announcement at a press conference about water safety 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.”

Apply For A Lifeguard Job In Massachusetts

The announcement comes in the wake of another drowning death on Thursday. Nineteen-year-old Jason Peri Bonilla drowned in Hyde Park when he went under the water after he began struggling while trying to swim across Turtle Pond with several friends.

Earlier this month, Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia died trying to save 14-year-old Troy Love, who also drowned.

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“While we encourage all our residents to visit our state coastal and inland beaches, as well as our public pools, we ask everyone to do it safely,” said Theoharides. “The forecast right now is indicating much of Massachusetts will be experiencing hot and humid conditions starting on Sunday and going into the next week. And we know many people will be visiting beaches and pools.”

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.

Colonel Christopher Mason of the Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) added at the press conference that state troopers and detectives have investigated 24 drownings since the start of the year, a rate that is higher than other years in recent memory.

“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.”

To apply for a Massachusetts lifeguard job: www.mass.gov/forms/lifeguard-application

More information on DCR Lifeguarding: www.mass.gov/guides/dcr-lifeguarding

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DCR Free Learn to Swim Classes: www.mass.gov/info-details/dcr-learn-to-swim#dcr-two-week-sessions-

CBSBoston.com Staff