PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)– As of September 30th there will be no guarded lifeguard towers on Panama City Beach, instead lifeguards will patrol the beach and respond to calls as they come. With the shift in control, lifeguards want you to be aware and know what to look out for.
While the water may look seemingly calm, a danger may loom that we can’t see, rip currents.
Beach Safety Director, Wil Spivey, said while they are difficult to spot there are some things to look out for.
“Sometimes you can see the water moving seaward, there may be matter floating in the water to help you see a possible current,” Spivey said.
Another indicator could be a scallop shoreline.
Spivey said the biggest problem with rip currents is that people often try to fight the current and swim against it.
“It’s like being on a treadmill and not getting anywhere. You’re not making progress, and eventually if you don’t get out of the rip current or get rescued,” Spivey said.
Spivey said if you do get caught in a rip current — you should swim alongside the beach.
“Swim sideways, which may seem counterintuitive, but once you get out of that channel it’ll be much easier to get into shore,” he said.
This season Spivey said his team performed over 2000 rescues within city limits.
So far in 2021, there have been 11 drownings between Bay County and Panama City Beach city limits
Spivey said to swim near a lifeguard, wear a life jacket if you’re a non-swimmer, while flotation devices may be helpful, you want to make sure that you are not able to lose them in rough waters. Most importantly, pay attention to the flag system.