JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Lifeguards are expecting people to flock to the coast to enjoy the local beaches this weekend.
And they’re warning people to be careful.
Three teens have died in suspected drownings at local beaches in the last 10 days and lifeguards said they’re seeing a surge in calls for help recently.
There will be many more days at the beach for children now that school is out for the summer but that should come with some caution.
“If I can’t see lifeguards around, I would not go too far out, because I’m not the strongest swimmer out there. So you know your limits! Yeah,” 15-year-old Chris Gonzalez told News4JAX.
News4JAX went out with Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue on Friday.
“The ocean is not a swimming pool. The ocean is consistently and continuously changing while a pool will forever be the same,” Lt. Max Ervanian said.
Ervanian said guards have been busy all season long responding to significantly more calls than in previous years with more residents, more vacationers and more activity.
“It’s a lot of people. It’s not just water rescues we respond to. It’s missing people, it’s medical emergencies, it’s traumatic emergencies, it’s law enforcement incidents. We’re seeing uptick of all types of calls for service,” he said.
Some turn tragic.
On Memorial Day weekend a 19-year-old drowned while swimming in Jacksonville Beach with his family after guards got off duty. Then days later in Jekyll Island, a 16-year-old drowned in the surf while at a church camp. And on Tuesday night in Neptune Beach a 19-year-old drowned trying to save three distressed swimmers in Neptune Beach. That too happened after lifeguard hours.
This weekend, expect a rip current risk and extra jellyfish activity. Rescuers said they have been treating several swimmers for stings which are usually minor but painful.
Guards say the best ways to stay safe are:
- Swimming with a buddy
- Swimming near a lifeguard – only when they’re on duty
- Not going out too far – because sandbars can disappear – and shallow water can suddenly become deep
And lifeguards say the biggest problem that they deal with is people overestimating their abilities in the water. Essentially, people who don’t swim as well as they think they can.
To learn how to get out of a rip current, watch the video below: