New PSA about beach safety, rip currents airing on WSFA
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A new public service announcement is now airing on WSFA 12 News. The focus is on rip currents, which is the number one weather-related killer along the Gulf Coast.
”July 3rd, 2014, It’s a day I will never forget,” explained WSFA 12 News Anchor Sally Pitts, discussing the PSA. “In it, I share my personal story about watching someone lose their life after getting caught in a rip current.”
”We hate to see people in tragic or, you know, tough situations with them in their family. “
Brett Lessinger was one of the lifeguards who responded that day. He’s now the beach safety director for Orange Beach.
”There have been some, a number of incidents that have kind of changed the landscape of how we perform as lifeguards.” he explained.
Orange Beach, along with Gulf Shores and the Alabama Tourism Department, have teamed up for an effort to keep you safe when you visit Alabama’s Gulf Coast. It’s called the Beach Safe Campaign, which includes video, audio and graphics to alert beachgoers about beach conditions, including rip currents.
”That accounts for over 80% of all of our rescues. Is it people getting stuck in that rip current? And then also people trying to help people that are getting stuck in the rip current,” explained Gulf Shores Beach Safety Director Joethan Phillips, who says the the campaign aims to reach vacationers before they get to the beach.
Before your trip, understand what the beach flags represent. When you arrive, always swim near a lifeguard and know what to do if you get caught in a rip current. Most of all, respect the power of the water. It doesn’t have to be a red flag day to be dangerous.
”You don’t realize how strong and powerful the wave is until it hits you in the hip and you realize that it’s strong enough to kind of move you and knock you off your feet, especially for small children.“
Officials want visitors to enjoy the beaches and to make it home after a safe trip.
You can be part of this effort, too. If you know someone headed to the beach, remind them about rips currents and the beach flag system. You can also get beach conditions sent straight to your cell phone by texting ALBEACHES to 888-777.
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