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Monday, May 27, 2024

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Crest Considering Lightning Warning System

Lightning Strike on Beach
Garrett teitloff/Shutterstock.com
Lightning Strike on Beach

By Christopher South

WILDWOOD CREST – Wildwood Crest Commissioners are considering a $44,000 lightning warning system that Commissioner Joseph Schiff hopes will save lives.
Schiff said he and others from the borough went to Berkeley Township to see a lightning warning system being used there. In August 2021, a 19-year-old lifeguard was killed by lightning while guarding a South Seaside beach in Berkeley Township.
The commissioners listened to a presentation, June 7, from Jon Wills, of Commercial Recreation Specialists (CRS), about its fully automated, state-of-the-art lightning detection system.
Wills said the system, which is solar-powered and does not require electrical hard-wiring, Wi-Fi or internet, can be set to detect lightning 5, 10, or 20 miles away.
He said CRS recommended setting the warning system for 10 miles to allow the lifeguards time to get people off the beach. After sounding an alarm, which he said sounds like a police siren, the system will automatically give an all-clear, which he said sounds more like a foghorn.
The system, Wills said, could be mounted on the lifeguard headquarters, or any other building, or even on a wooden post. He said the system generally requires a yearly checkup, particularly for the battery backup system, and the company offers maintenance plans.
Wills said the system could be programmed to work during beach hours only, saying most users have the warning system off after hours.
Commissioner Joseph Franco asked how loud the siren is and Wills said they operate at 185 decibels (dB) and could be lowered if needed but added that this only seems to be the case when sirens are mounted indoors. He said the loudness has never been a problem on beaches.
Schiff wondered if the system should not be expanded to cover Sunset Lake and the little league field, which might require more sensors. According to Wills, the borough would only need one sensor, which would transmit a wireless signal to any number of sirens within a 2-mile radius. The sirens, he said, can be heard for at least a mile.
Wills said he thought the technology was very solid and had been around for 20 years. He said if the borough opts to go with the system, it could probably be installed in late July, based on availability.
Schiff said currently the lifeguards have to observe lightning and then the word is relayed twice before the order is given to clear the beach.
With the warning system, the lifeguards would simply react to the siren, saving time getting people off the beach.
The commissioners will consider the lightning warning system and revisit the topic at a future meeting. 
Contact the author, Christopher South, at csouth@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.

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