PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)– With Spring Break in full swing, many tourists and locals alike are heading to the white sandy beaches and may not be aware of the hidden dangers of rip currents.
According to the National Weather Service, rip currents are the number one weather-related threat in the northern gulf coast region, killing 172 people since 2002.
In Panama City Beach the double red flag ordinance which was passed back in August of 2020, was created to deter those who want to swim in those conditions.
Violators can face up to a $500 fine on their first offense, and up to $1000 for their second offense.
Wil Spivey, the Director of Beach Safety for Panama City Beach Fire Rescue said he feels the fines have been effective. He added in a way, the fines also help to protect the first responders who also risk their lives attempting to save others.
“We ended up having over 100 water rescues last season with around 500 assists and then we had tens of thousands of preventative action meaning we were encouraging people not to enter here or educating them on rip currents,” said Spivey.
Spivey said he is still looking to hire more lifeguards for this season as they are anticipating to see more tourists coming to the beaches. To apply, you can email him at email@example.com