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Lifeguards rescuing more people due to strong rip currents
PENSACOLA BEACH -- It was a dangerous weekend all along the coast. Around 40 people had to be rescued from Pensacola beach due to strong rip currents. Everyone was okay. However, lifeguards are having an easier time keeping people out of the water in dangerous conditions.
The ordinance has been around since 2010 and it allows officers to issues fines if someone goes in the water when red flags are flying. But for lifeguards it can be the difference of life and death. Lifeguards will do just about anything to keep swimmers out of dangerous water.
“You can go one spot and be shin deep and go somewhere else and be over your head...”
Even at one time, some local lifeguards would ask swimmers to write their date of birth and name on their arms. That way could be identified if they didn't come back.
“He was definitely one of our more creative guards, to make sure people would listen...I personally never did that. We do whatever we can to keep people out, fortunately we do have that ordinance that helps us out. “
That ordinance has helped out a ton. The mere threat of a fine keeps many people out. And it's been so effective; they’ve never had to actually write a ticket.
“When I first came out we didn't have that ordinance, we would tell people they couldn’t go in water, we didn’t have any weight behind it...No way to get them to listen to us.”
But some people slip through the cracks and swim in areas where there aren't many of lifeguards. That’s why around 40 people had to be rescued this weekend from the gulf.
“I wouldn’t even be in an area where there weren't life guard stands.”
Karl Feilden realizes that, but many others go in anyway....and that's why lifeguards are on high alert, at all times.
“We heard emergency sirens and them rushing to an area,” Feilden said.