Lifeguards give water safety tips

By Marques White - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Too often a fun day of swimming turns into tragedy. With summer in full swing, lifeguards are urging parents to educate themselves and their children on the importance of water safety.

Green Cove Springs police said an 18-year-old was swimming at the end of a pier when he came to an area where there was thick mud and police said that made it difficult to get out. A friend who was with him tried to get him out but began struggling himself.

"We highly recommend people not swim in unguarded areas," said Jelisse Marrero, captain of the American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps. "If you have floatation devices around you can assist somebody that's in danger. We would never recommend to rescue someone."

Police in Orlando are investigating how an infant ended up in a pool while being watched by a grandmother.

Lifeguards say it's essential to keep pool areas secure and to watch young children.

"Children are really fast and they can get away from you before you know it," Marrero said.

Off-duty public safety workers in Broward County said they found a man and a woman seven miles from shore.

The couple said they fell off their boat in Key Largo Friday night around 6. They spent 14 hours treading in the water, and tried to use a T-shirt to flag down someone for help.

"Adding a whistle to your lifejacket is a great idea because you can alert people around you by blowing it and making noise," Marrero said.

When the man and woman were rescued they had mild hypothermia and jelly fish stings, according to the Broward County Sheriff's Department.

Channel 4 spoke to lifeguards at Jacksonville Beach who suggested some safety tips while in the water:

  • Always swim with a lifeguard nearby
  • Children should swim in front of a lifeguard and parents should stay nearby
  • Ask a lifeguard about the dangers of the water that day
  • If you need help, waive your arm
  • Be careful near piers -- those areas can be deeper

Some parents told Channel 4 how important water safety is to them.

"You always keep your eye on the kids," said Tina Lang. "You just don't depend on lifeguards.

"It (water safety) is very important if you want to take your kids back home from vacation," said Gabriele Ameen.

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