With the South Walton Fire District (SWFD) professional beach lifeguard season ending this Sunday, September 26, 2010, Beach Safety Director Gary Wise, urges beach goers to heed the beach flag warning system and use good sense when deciding to enter the Gulf of Mexico.
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 5 years ago, there has not been a drowning at a lifeguard supervised beach during lifeguard scheduled hours,” said Wise.
This lifeguard season presented a new and unique challenge to SWFD Lifeguards. Any trip to the beach involves possible hazards, including rip currents, stormy weather, and high concentrations of marine life such as jellyfish and sharks. But this was the season of the BP Oil Spill, which added a new and greatly misunderstood potential hazard to that list. “We place the emphasis of our program on public education and prevention. Our lifeguards have made 134,338 public contacts, resulting in 10,098 preventative actions and conducted 120 oil related actions, giving us an opportunity to provide the latest and most accurate information associated with the oil spill”, said Sean Hughes, Deputy Fire Chief.
A skeleton crew of lifeguards will continue supervising the beaches of South Walton during October. In addition they will be demobilizing the eight lifeguard towers and equipment from the beach for post season maintenance until the 2011 Lifeguard Season begins again the second week in March 2011. 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 their website at www.swfd.org.