Drowning prompts renewed beach safety awareness

Swim safety top concern as beach weather returns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The beach can be a peaceful place, but it can also be deadly if you don't know how to swim safely.

"Swim near a lifeguard. Know your limits. If you don't know the conditions please ask our lifeguards what the conditions are, where the rip currents are," said Capt. Rob Emhiser, a Red Cross lifeguard.

That's a reminder everyone needs to need to hear, especially with beach weather coming back and lifeguard stations not being fully staffed yet. Neighboring beaches will be patrolling but won't have lifeguards out until April 26 and even lifeguards who are on duty get off of the beach at 5 o'clock, until the season is in full swing.

Just this past weekend, lifeguards responded to two different drowning incidents.

On Saturday, a man died when he drowned off of St. Augustine Beach. On Sunday a person nearly drowned off of Neptune Beach.

Lifeguards say in both cases they are unsure what led up to the drownings but the surf was strong both days.

So what do you do if you get caught in the current?

Swim parallel to shore and diagonally back or just relax and try to float and rest and once you're out of the rip current, then swim back to shore.

Captain Rob Emahiser says the best advice is to swim in the eyesight of a lifeguard even if you are a strong swimmer.

"If you're swimming in front of the lifeguard just pay attention. Your lifeguards are going to blow a whistle when they are trying to let you know what the conditions are," Emhiser said.

He also reminds swimmers not to swim if you've had alcohol, or if you are tired from being out in the sun all day.

Parents also need to remember to watch kids closely.

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