Lifeguards warn of rip currents ahead of holiday weekend

More lifeguards to be on duty in Jacksonville Beach

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Though it's expected to rain during the Memorial Day weekend, many people will still try to head to the beach when there's spurts of sunshine. 

The Weather Authority and Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue warn that rip currents are expected to be strong throughout the weekend. 

There will be more lifeguards than normal as there will more beachgoers than normal. 

Beachgoers should pay attention to the flags. If the flags are ever red, avoid getting in the water unless you're an excellent swimmer.

Ocean Rescue advises you to assign an adult to watch each child.  

Capt. Rob Emahiser , with Ocean Rescue, urges all parents to always keep a close eye on their children, saying it makes lifeguards' jobs a bit easier.

"Go down to the water with them. Don't be up in the high tide in your chair or on your phone," Emahiser said. "You can't watch them effectively like that. So stay down with the kids by the water, wherever they are."

The beach was already crowded Friday as people kicked off their Memorial Day weekend. 

The Glidden brothers, 13-year-old Ashton and 9-year-old Ryan, live in Jacksonville. They're familiar with the ocean and love swimming, but still don't take chances.

"Usually don't go past my waist because there's usually rip currents and high tides and it can pull you out pretty far," Ashton said.

Ryan added, "I make sure it's not too strong and that I have somebody older with me."

Emahiser reminds people to listen to the lifeguards. If you're uncertain about where to swim, ask. 

If you do get caught in a rip current, don't fight it. Relax and float with it until you make it to shore.

Ocean Rescue also urges to avoid swimming by the pier. It's a popular area to sit, but don't swim there. The pier can bring different waves and currents. There can also be hooks from people fishing, as well as potentially dangerous marine life going after the bait on those hooks. 

Since Jacksonville Beach stays pretty populated year-round, lifeguards have been out since March. They will be out seven days a week, currently from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. But starting June 1, they'll be out from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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