Packed beaches keep lifeguards busy with rescues

Lifeguards urge beachgoers to keep an eye on children, watch for rip currents

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JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – During the long Memorial Day weekend, lifeguards at Jacksonville Beach are keeping a watchful eye on the crowds. The staff has been increased to 46 lifeguards with six officers, about 10 more than usual.

Lifeguards said one of the biggest issues they have been dealing with is kids getting separated from their parents.

"Yeah, it's very common. We have missing kids every day. On a weekend three, four a day and on a busy weekend to total around 10 to 18 calls for service of just missing kids, or missing parents," said Capt. Maxwell Ervanian, Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue.

One thing you can do when you get to the beach is go to the lifeguard station by Joe's Crab Shack to pick up a wrist band and write your child's name and phone number on it in case you get separated.

"We urge all parents and beachgoers when they are coming with kids to introduce them to the lifeguards and show them where they are and tell them if they get lost, to go to a lifeguard immediately, Ervanian said.

The best way to prevent separation, though, is to stay close by and watch your kids.

"We really want to remind bathers who come to the beach with kids (to) be in an arm’s length from their kids. If the kids are in the water, be on the shoreline, at least," he said.

Lifeguards said the other big problem over holiday weekends is people who are not strong swimmers getting in the ocean.

"Be mindful. If it looks calm, don't let that be deceiving, there are still rip currents, sloughs, a sandbar, a wind that can factor into the water conditions, and also being on floats or floatation devices," Ervanian said.  

It's advised to stay in knee deep water if you aren't a strong swimmer, even with just a moderate risk for rip current.

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