Crowds flocking to beaches on Labor Day keep lifeguards busy

St. Johns County closes at least one beach to vehicles Monday

Crowds soaked in the sunshine on the last summer holiday of the year, making this one of the busiest times for area beaches.

VILANO BEACH, Fla. – Crowds soaked in the sunshine on the last summer holiday of the year, making this one of the busiest times for area beaches.

Lifeguards were on high alert.

“Yesterday, we responded to 37 calls for service within 10 hours,“ Capt. Maxwell Ervanian with Ocean Rescue said. “On Saturday, we responded to 39 calls for service and 10 hours.”

Lifeguards performed five distressed swimmers calls on Saturday and four on Sunday.

“We have been experiencing a lot of red flag conditions for the last couple of days,” Ervanian said. “Today is the first time we’ve seen a yellow flag this Labor Day weekend, so the lifeguards have been extremely busy. We performed well over 1,000 preventative actions within the last couple days.”

Yellow flags indicate medium surf and current hazards, reminding swimmers to swim near a lifeguard and with a buddy.

Down in St. Johns County, Omayra Ortiz kept a close eye on her young son, Javi, especially with the red flags flying.

“We talk to them before coming here and I’ll stay right on the edge and that’s why we stay close to them so we can see,” she said.

Ortiz said it was tough finding a parking spot with the crowds who also wanted to enjoy this Labor Day from the beach.

St. Johns County closed the vehicle access ramp at Vilano Beach on Monday morning.

On Sunday, it was just as crowded, with both Vilano and Porpoise Point access points closed off to cars early in the day because of the crowds.

Lifeguards are reminding beachgoers to check conditions. You can go to Jax Beach Lifeguard’s Instagram page or subscribe to beach notion safety notifications by texting Duval Beach to 888777 or visit jaxBeachLifegaurd.org

There were purple warning flags flying on Saturday at Jacksonville Beach due to marine life and red flags on Sunday due to hazardous surf conditions. Water conditions are expected to become more intense over the next couple of days due to swells from Hurricane Larry.

Key to warning flags at the beach

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