By: lisa@wtvy.com
By: lisa@wtvy.com

Authorities are cracking down on swimmers at Bay County beaches.

There is a new ordinance that's designed to keep the public safe.

Anyone headed to Bay County beaches needs to look twice before hitting the water.

If there's a double red flag flying and you're swimming along one of the 14 miles of unincorporated beaches, you could face fines of up to $500 dollars or spend up to 60 days in jail.

Sheriff Frank McKeithen, with the Bay County Sheriff's Office said, “We've been working on this about three months. It's not a knee jerk reaction; it's something that I’ve talked to my officers that are out there everyday risking their lives to pull people out that continue to go in the water,

Sheriff McKeithen says after plucking around 200 people out of the water and 10 drownings so far this year, he has to take more drastic measures to get the message of safety across to the public.

“Some people can sit back and say, ‘well, they're stupid for going in the water’, but that's not necessarily true,” Sheriff McKeithen continued. “Some of them don't know, they just can't imagine how dangerous it is.”

Now, the sheriff's office says you can enjoy the water, but you do need to follow the regulations.

Deputy Stephanie Wargo, with the Bay County Sheriff's Office said, “On double red flag days, we are obviously going to warn them and educate them on the flag system. If they chose not to take heed to the warning, at that time they can and may be issued a citation.”

Sheriff deputies will be passing out a flag warning notice to beach goers and to hotels.

The card gives detailed information about the different flag colors and their level of caution for swimmers in the water.

Authorities ask that if you see someone in distress during a double flag warning, do not swim out to help, but call 911.


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