Jacksonville Beach, Florida – Lifeguards prepare for large crowds on the beach this holiday weekend. They are doubling their staff and expecting rough waves.
While their eyes are always on the sea, they also ask you to do your part to stay safe.
We explain how to avoid dangers in the water as soon as you step on the sand.
Tasha Jones was with her friend’s daughters, 2-year-old Kiko and 5-year-old Journey, in Jacksonville Beach.
“The girls love it,” she said. “Yes!” Travel replied.
More beach goers also mean more people in the water.
“He loves to swim,” said Anna Allenpennington of her four year old son.
If you’re not a strong swimmer, lifeguards say: Don’t go over knee-deep water as a wave could easily knock you over in deeper waters and a backwash current could suck you into the sea.
“[We] just stay on the bank, right where the water is right here. We don’t want to go near the waves, ”explained Allenpennington.
Lifeguards also say you should keep children an arm’s length away.
“I’m a very nervous person so I just keep the girls close to me,” said Jones. “I can swim. She put on her own life jacket in this one, so she’s very safe,” she added, pointing to two year old Kiko.
Communication is also key.
“[The girls] just know, listen, ”said Jones.
The 5-year Journey understands why.
“When you get in the water, do you know how important it is to listen to the adults?” I asked.
“Very important,” answered Journey.
“And why is that?” I added. “
“Because it saves you from drowning in the water.”
46 lifeguards and officials also ensure the safety of the people. That is more than twice as many as on Saturday, when 18 lifeguards and officers were on duty.
A primary concern is rift currents. If you get caught in one, the lifeguards will tell you to stay calm. They don’t pull you under, they just pull you out. And you can use that energy to swim diagonally to the shore. But you can find out what to expect before you get in the water.
As soon as you step onto the beach, you can see a colored flag lining the coast. The one in Jacksonville Beach is yellow, suggesting there will be moderate surf and some strong currents in the water.
Lifeguards expect the yellow flag conditions to last through Monday.
Lifeguards pulled 44 people out of the water and answered 97 service calls over the past weekend, according to Jacksonville Ocean Rescue.
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