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Lifeguards preparing for busy Fourth of July weekend

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 8:44 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

After a busy Memorial Day and with a busy Fourth of July expected, Panama City Beach Fire Rescue officials say they’re nearly doubling the number of lifeguards this weekend.

“We are going to focus on prevention and education,” said Beach Safety Director for Panama City Beach Fire Rescue Wil Spivey. “Encourage folks to pay attention to the flags and heed the warnings of the patrols and lifeguards that will be out this weekend.”

Officials with the county say they will be all hands on deck for the Fourth as well.

“We’re going to have all our guards on staff,” said Pier Crew Leader for Bay County Parks and Rec Vince Martin. “We’ll have three at Rick Seltzer Park and four here [at the County Pier] as well. We’ll probably be on a little later than we normally do, we’ll stay pretty late.”

With a chance of rough surf over the weekend, officials say it’s more important than ever to heed warnings from lifeguards or patrols and to not underestimate the Gulf.

“Please always be mindful of your flags,” said Marin. “We’re supposed to have a little weather come this weekend but we hope it’ll be a really beautiful weekend but we still have to watch out for this water.”

Regardless of weather conditions, safety officials say the lifeguards are prepared for the busy weekend but say prevention and education are key in keeping beachgoers safe.

“We train in the double red flag conditions, this is our backyard. So, we’re prepared to enter the water to affect rescues,” said Spivey. “But we like to keep people from getting in trouble in the first place with as few rescues as possible.”

Safety officials say patrols will keep an eye on beachgoers to make sure they’re social distancing as well.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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