Sunday, September 27, 2009 was the last day for the South Walton Fire District (SWFD) Lifeguards supervising the beaches of South Walton for the 2009 season.
As the sun lowered on the horizon, lifeguards, with the assistance of firefighters, began the arduous task of removing the eight lifeguard towers from the beach. Lifeguard towers, wooden and aluminum symbols representing a safe and secure place to enjoy the surf and sand, are heading for post- season maintenance and storage.
Lifeguards have been supervising the beaches from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily since March.
“Since the Beach Safety and Education program began 4 years ago, there has not been a drowning at a lifeguard supervised beach during lifeguard scheduled hours and, to date, this summer has been no exception. I’m proud to report that, so far, we have kept our record intact for another year,” said Gary Wise, Beach Safety Director. “We place the emphasis of our program on public education and prevention. Our lifeguards have conducted 15,163 preventative actions, and the result is a very low rate of major incidents.”
A notable new addition to the beach safety program this year were beach wheelchairs, available at three tower locations for those needing assistance with mobility on the beach sand. The chairs have been removed from the beach, but will continue to be available. Members of the public requiring the use of a beach wheelchair will need to contact the SWFD Headquarters Station at 850-267-1298 and arrange to schedule a wheelchair for their use.
While the lifeguards will not be patrolling the beach, the SWFD realizes that people will still be visiting the beach and are asking that you think smart and be careful. Know the beach and understand and heed the beach flag warnings. Daily surf conditions and beach safety related information is still available at www.swfd.org or visit the Fire District’s Facebook Page: South Walton Fire District.
For further information, please contact Sean Hughes, Deputy Chief at 850-267-1298 or visit our website at www.swfd.org.