Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beachgoers Should Practice Safety in Water, Officials Say; Lifeguards at Mickler's Landing Get Ready for a Busy Year

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beachgoers Should Practice Safety in Water, Officials Say; Lifeguards at Mickler's Landing Get Ready for a Busy Year

Article excerpt

Byline: SHAKAYA ANDRES

PONTE VEDRA BEACH - An extra lifeguard has been assigned to the increasingly crowded Mickler's Landing beach, but St. Johns County fire rescue officials are reminding beachgoers to use due diligence in the water.

Beginning Memorial Day weekend, three lifeguards will be posted at Mickler's at Ponte Vedra Boulevard and Florida A1A, the most popular beach access in Ponte Vedra Beach and the only one with parking.

Towers will be stationed 25 yards to the north and south of the Mickler's walkway, said fire rescue spokesman Jeremy Robshaw. A supervisor will also continue patrolling the beach in a vehicle.

"Swimming in the pool is a different swimming environment than in the ocean," he said. "Our job is to do what we can to protect people."

So far this fiscal year, October through September, 14 swimmers have been reported in distress in the ocean, not including the peak beach season, this month through September. Throughout the entire previous year, fiscal 2008-09, 279 people were rescued throughout the county's beaches, officials said.

Municipal Service District Chairman Gary Jurenovich applauded the county's move to add another lifeguard to Mickler's.

"I think that's great, yet another example of St. Johns County being proactive," he said. "Safety has always been the primary concern for the county."

One or two gulps of water when someone is in a panic situation is usually followed by a drowning, said Robshaw.

Swimmers should be aware of the conditions of the water, ask the lifeguards questions, know the signs of a rip current and swim either with someone, while someone is watching or near a lifeguard, Robshaw said. He spoke as many organizations across the nation are celebrating National Water Safety Month.

"Preventive active action is our primary goal," he said. "When the [lifeguards] see someone go out far, they blow the whistle and have them come back in."

Water safety month recognizes the popularity of swimming and other water-related recreational activities and the need for ongoing public education on safer water practice including swim lessons, the buddy system, parental supervision, following posted rules and always being aware in the water. …

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