Panama City Beach revisits lifeguard program

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 9:10 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - After a young boy was found dead in the Gulf of Mexico this week, Panama City Beach city leaders are cracking down on safety rules and looking to put more lifeguards on patrol.

At Thursday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Mark Sheldon brought up a program available for all lodging partners across the beach. The city will train and equip seasonal lifeguards as public employees, then contract them with rental properties and businesses who will pay the costs. This would place lifeguards in quarter-mile stretches of the beach. But Sheldon said when it comes to beach safety, the cost is the roadblock.

“We want to make sure that we’re sharing some of the responsibility and some of the burden. That cost has been put out there. We’re going to revisit it with the chief to initiate some more conversations to implore folks to please join on board and have a lifetime program,” Sheldon said.

On Wednesday, Bay County Commissioners voted to match Panama City Beach’s double-red flag rules. When double-red’s fly, which means the Gulf is closed, you will now be fined $500 for breaking this rule. This now stretches across all 27 miles of beach.

“Folks don’t know when they come down if they’re on Panama City Beach or if they’re in unincorporated area so for us, we wanted to make sure that the whole island was the same. There’s not a line in the sand. We are one Panama City Beach, so we wanted to make sure everybody felt that,” Sheldon said.

Mayor Sheldon wants to remind everyone that although we all love a good beach day, you have to keep in mind the Gulf is strong and can be very dangerous.

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