Low gas prices expected to boost July 4th attendance; police beef up patrols

troot@thesunnews.com and wcrosby@thesunnews.comJuly 2, 2012 

  • More information Here are some tips to be safe this Fourth of July from the American Red Cross: • Swim safety: Before and during ocean swimming check the weather and water conditions. Swim only at a lifeguard-protected beach in designated swimming areas. Obey all safety rules. Avoid alcohol before and during water activities, and never swim alone. Actively supervise children at all times. Stay within arm’s reach of young children when they are in the water. Have weak swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Don’t rely on water wings or inflatable toys. Always enter shallow water feet first. Dive only in areas marked safe for diving. If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. Once free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can’t swim to the shore, shout for help, float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore. Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures. Outdoors: Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15 throughout the day. Drink plenty of water and avoid drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine. Wear sunglasses that absorb UV sunlight. And remember wear beach shoes to protect your feet. Fireworks: Never give fireworks to small children and always follow the instructions on the packaging. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution. Anyone lighting fireworks should always wear eye protection. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud." Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets. Never throw or point fireworks toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Stay at least 500 feet away from professional fireworks displays. Grilling: Always watch the barbecue grill when in use. Never grill indoors -- in any enclosed area. Make sure children and pets stay away from the grill. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe. Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.

Another drop in gasoline prices is expected to boost the number of people coming to the Myrtle Beach area for July 4th holiday this week, and public safety officials want those visitors and residents to be safe while celebrating.

“We expect a large number of people in town over the Fourth of July week and we will have additional officers working,” Myrtle Beach police Capt. David Knipes. “Also a reminder that fireworks are illegal to possess or discharge inside the city limits.”

More police and fire officials will be working to patrol the area’s roads, waterways and respond to emergencies and monitor for violations such as driving or boating under the influence, according to officials.

“Make sure any celebrating is done responsibly,” Horry County police Sgt. Robert Kegler said. “Alcohol curbs good judgment, and there are a lot of things that become dangerous under the influence of it. Driving, swimming, fireworks all have dangers anyways, and it intensifies while under the influence.”

Fireworks are not permitted in most municipalities along the Grand Strand and officials recommend that visitors and residents attend a professional, organized show.

Surfside Beach police increased the number of officers they will have on the beach this year to help keep everyone safe, Chief Mike Frederick said.

“We usually add an officer on the beach during holiday weeks, but we added two this week due to very large number of visitors already here and to assist with problems attendant to the very high temperatures,” Frederick said.

The official travel holiday period begins Tuesday, and troopers with the S.C. Highway Patrol as well as officers with the state Department of Natural Resources plan to step up their patrols on highways and waterways. Last year, nine people were killed on the highways during the July 4 holiday.

“When a holiday falls mid-week, we see motorists traveling both weekends – before and after the holiday,” said Highway Patrol Col. Mike Oliver. “That is why troopers will be out in larger numbers throughout the week, joining other law enforcement agencies for saturations and public safety checkpoints to keep motorists safe.”

Officials expect more people driving to the Grand Strand after gas prices dropped 11 cents per gallon to $2.88 over the last week according to SouthCarolinaGasPrices.

South Carolina and Mississippi are the only two states where gas is less than $3 per gallon, said Tom Crosby, AAA Carolinas spokesman. South Carolina currently has the cheapest gas in the country at $2.915 per gallon, 6.8 cents less than a week ago.

“The gas prices had a great impact on our decision to come this week,” said visitor Johnny Barney.

The Barney’s drove in last Saturday from Mississippi to enjoy all that Myrtle Beach has to offer.

“We’ve been doing a lot of sight-seeing,” Barney said.

They were spending the money they saved from gas on afternoon shopping at Broadway at the Beach.

Michael Sprinkle and his family didn’t come to vacation from Pennsylvania because the gas prices are low, but it was an added bonus.

“We come down here every year regardless, but it made it a lot better,” Sprinkle said.

The Sprinkles said they were spending the extra money they saved by doing more shopping during their seven day vacation.

The price per gallon in Myrtle Beach is 32 cents lower than a month ago and 40 cents lower than a year ago.

Gasbuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan says the decline in prices may soon be coming to an end.

“The yellow brick road won’t be leading us to cheaper pumps for much longer, something many Americans will undoubtedly tie to the upcoming holiday," DeHaan said in a press release.

Tom Crosby, the spokesman for AAA Carolinas, says that despite a slight increase in price on Friday he thinks gas will continue to drop.

“On Friday oil prices went up $7, but what happened on Friday was the European Union was deciding how they were going to solve the debt prices, and that fueled a little optimism about oil. The prices dropped back down after Friday,” Crosby said.

He says he still believes that the decreasing gas prices will continue.

“Well, I think it’s still going to be tied to the world economy and as long as the European economy remains fairly weak the prices of oil will remain low,” Crosby said.

The national average per gallon dropped 6.6 cents in the last week to $3.37 per gallon. That is 24 cents lower than a month ago and 19.8 cents lower than a year ago.

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or BILLY CROSBY at 626-0310.

Myrtle Beach Sun News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service