Spring Break and Beach Safety

By: Rhiana Huckins Email
By: Rhiana Huckins Email

A 27- year-old Georgia man is dead after a weekend drowning incident off the shores of Pensacola Beach.

He and his friends were in the Gulf when a rip currant prevented him from swimming to the shore.

Officials say this is the first drowning at that beach in three years.

It’s the beginning of spring break and that means the beaches are filling up with vacationers.

Panama City Beach has no lifeguards on duty at the beach, leaving beach goers to take in the waves at their own risk.

Angie Jordan, a Panama City resident said, "I came up here last spring with my niece and we were on the edge and the wave almost washed us away. There should be lifeguards here."

The Beach Patrol is out for emergencies, but visitors are expected to take notice of the beach warning flags that stand tall on shore.

Spring Breaker Jared Olson said, "Beach safety is a big deal. I know they have the flags; blue, yellow, red, but no one really listens to that stuff. I mean, if they wanna’ go out, they are gonna’ go out. If you're in trouble and it’s a red flag, there's no life guard out there to save you."

Right no, the beach warning flag is yellow, meaning medium hazard. However, if it were red, swimmers should watch out for high surf and strong currants.

Dale Smith, a frequent visitor of the area said when the flags are out, he does pay attention to what color they are, but says, “Not everyone else does."

One lifeguard who was on the beach, enjoying spring break says parents need to be especially cautious when their young children are playing in the water.

Chris Hamed, a certified lifeguard said, "There are a lot of parents out there who don't really watch their kids. A lot of 5-year-olds will end up going under."

Swimmers should also be aware of rip currants; if caught in one, try to tread the water, scream and wave for help and remember to go with the current and not fight against it.

Swimmers should also know that rip currants are not often visible from the shore because a strong force is pulling water underneath the surface.

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