Lifeguards Discuss Safe Swimming in Gulf

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - According to the Florida Department of Health, everyday two children under the age of 14 die from drowning.

In Bay County, county lifeguard, Adam Boyer, said one of the biggest causes of a drowning are rip currents.
"For swimmers out in the water, rip currents are probably the most dangerous thing they will encounter," he said. "The waves do get fairly big out here, but for the majority of the time it is the rip currents that cause the most problems."

If you do get caught inside a rip current, Boyer said the first thing you should do is stay calm.
"Then just try to see where the current is going, and swim parallel to the shore following the current until you can maybe catch a little bit of break on the sandbar or where you can touch," he said.

One way that Bay County lifeguards warn swimmers about currents is through the flag system.

There are four different flags that fly to notify swimmers of surf conditions: green, yellow, single red and double red.

If double red flags are flying, that means the water is closed to swimmers, while red flags typically mean there is a high hazard of strong currents.

"On red flags we say knee deep is too deep," Boyer said.

Even on days with green or yellow flags, the Gulf is still dangerous.

Boyer said there are a few things you can do to prevent accidents from happening.

"Come see the lifeguard, let them tell you about where the dangers are in the area, where the safe places are to swim, and always use the best common sense out there," he said.

Lifeguards also recommend children and weak swimmers wear life jackets while in the gulf to prevent any accidents.

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