Day in the life: what goes into beach patrol when the rip curren - FOX10 News | WALA

Day in the life: what goes into beach patrol when the rip current becomes a risk

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ORANGE BEACH, AL (WALA) -

A tropical disturbance heading toward the coast of Texas is having an impact on beaches in Alabama, causing a high risk of rip currents.

Between 15 and 20 rescues were made over the weekend according to beach safety officials. One beachgoer who frequents Orange Beach said he was concerned about the number of kids venturing out into the water on Monday.

“It scares me to sit back here and watch some of these children that are not being very closely because I know how quickly it can happen,” Steve Ponder, a vacationer from Munford, AL, said.

Ponder himself is no stranger to the danger the Gulf poses. He opted to stay out of the water because a few years ago he was pulled out by a rip current. He said some beachgoers mistakenly let their guards down on days when red flags are flying.

“They become complacent because they don't see a whole lot of bad situations happen, but you've got to do is see just one or be around one and it'll make you respect it,” Ponder said.

But when people do get into dicey situations, there are lifeguards patrolling the beaches, like three-year lifeguard Brett Lesinger, who will come to the rescue.

“The main thing is to reach them as fast as possible, comfort the person that's in distress, get them calmed back down and then swim them back into shore,” Lesinger said.

FOX10 News joined Lesinger for a trip around the more than one mile of beach he and his partner are tasked to cover.

He said a common complication they encounter is when a child gets caught in a rip current and the parent gets involved.

“They'll get caught in a rip current and then that entices their parent to go in the water after the child. So instead of having one victim in distress, we then have two victims that we have to go out and rescue,” Lesinger said.

He also noted that the waves break much closer to the shore while near Perdido Pass, which he said some people don't think about.

“If you get knocked off your feet, there's the chance that you could get pulled out into the water if there was a rip current around. Whereas to Cotton Bayou, the waves are breaking further out and so you actually have to swim out to get to where the surf is there,” Lesinger said.

He said the best thing to do is to know your limits as a swimmer and to educate yourself on the flag warning system.


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