Panama City Beach Rip Currents

By: Rayne McKenzie
By: Rayne McKenzie

Panama City Beach Police officers are stepping up patrol in response to the increase in rip current emergencies.

Hurricane Dolly is creating rough surf and strong rip currents that have already sent several people to the hospital.

Double warning flags are flying and that means the ocean is off limits to the public, but that's not stopping tourists from venturing out.

Extra police patrols are being called in to encourage sunbathers to stay out of the water, and hopefully, keep medical emergencies to a minimum.

Hurricane Dolly is affecting beach goers in Panama City Beach. The number of rip currents continues to rise and that means emergency responders are working overtime.

Deputy Chief David Humphreys from the Panama City Beach Police Department said, "Yesterday, we had a high number of calls, several to the hospital and we have more police officers going to the beach."

Because there are no lifeguards, fellow beach goers have to rely on other beachgoers to save their lives.

Tourist Amanda Goff said, "There was a man who got pulled out and he was screaming for help; we were telling him to swim parallel and not panic."

That’s just one of many instances beachgoers are experiencing because of rip currents. Police are asking that everyone stay out of the water to keep from pulled under.

Humphreys added the, "First priority is to keep people out, warn them, [and] then we have to help rescue them."

If you do get caught in a rip current, police advise you to relax and swim parallel to the current, not against it for your best chance of survival.

Chief Deputy Humphreys said Thursday, some vacationers have actually called the police station over the past week to complain about police officers on the beach asking swimmers to get out of the water.

The police usually don't keep such a close patrol on the waters, but the rip current situation is so serious that they feel this extra step of precaution is necessary.

Panama City does not have lifeguards on their public beaches; therefore, the warning flag system is a beach-goers best defense against the rip currents.

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