Visitors should exercise caution while swimming in the “dynamic environment” of the Gulf, Orange Beach officials say
(OBA®) – Orange Beach, AL – Getting everyone to read and understand the flag warning system available throughout the Gulf Coast of Alabama is difficult in itself.
“It’s a monumental task,” said Orange Beach Fire Chief Mike Kimmerling.
But going further, Kimmerling said he would like visitors to understand how these guidelines affect them personally as well.
“The flags themselves are not an indicator of one’s ability,” Kimmerling added. “People don’t know everything we do. I can tell two people from out of town that today is Yellow Flag Day and that’s what it means. They would be like oh, yellow means everything is fine so I can go there even though I can’t swim and I don’t know what the water looks like. This is not a zero depth pool that you step into. It’s a dynamic environment.
Even on yellow flag days, Kimmerling said, Gulf waters can become perilous, marking one of the reasons the flag system ditched the green flag, which some saw as a green light.
“Red flag days are very difficult, especially when the weather is hot, because as the day goes on and people warm up, have a few drinks and don’t think it looks too bad.” Kimmerling said. “Same thing with yellow. We removed the green here because the green means there is no risk and it was like the pool. In this dynamic body of water, there is always a risk.
Beach Safety Brett Lesinger said they recommend a list of 10 tips from the United States Lifesaving Association that can help keep swimmers safe when visiting the Gulf.
- Appoint a water supervisor
- Alcohol and water don’t mix
- Beat the heat and block out the sun
Click here to see the full explanation of each of these tips.
Another thing Lesinger would like people to remember is rushing into the water to help a friend or relative in distress.
“One person goes into distress, and then we have three or four more rescuers trying to save them, people who aren’t skilled swimmers or people who don’t have a lifesaving device,” Lesinger said. “They are only good at saving themselves and they are trying to save someone else. Now we have made the tragedy worse. We had a swimmer, but now a lifeguard has to rescue four people.
Lesinger says he understands that it’s hard to resist the urge to help someone in trouble in the water, but the sooner someone calls 911, the sooner professional help will be on the scene. .
“I know it’s a tough bullet for some people to bite, but your best solution is to call 911 or signal a rescuer or something,” Lesinger said. “You step into the water and don’t let anyone else know that you are going into the water to pick up someone, but the next person calls. By the time we get the 911 call, we’re three minutes behind what we already should have been if that person had pulled over and called 911.
“I want to strongly discourage people from entering the water who do not need it.”
Another tool used by the Surf Rescue division is a daily report that is emailed to anyone or organization wishing to be on the list. Kimmerling said the Perdido Beach Resort prints its daily copy and installs it on all doors leading to the resort’s pool and beach area. It is issued 365 days a year and contains:
- High tide and low tide times
“We email it to whoever wants it and say here it’s everyday and reflects what’s on our beach report,” Kimmerling said. “We talk every day and we publish a consistent report with Gulf Shores every day. We do this for the sake of consistency so as not to wave different flags and give different information. “
Here are the best ways to access our daily beach report:
- Go to our
Facebook page for a 45 second video clip and daily beach report
Visitors and residents can also register for
Baldwin Alert via the Baldwin County EMA for weather, lightning, and surf / tide alerts via text message.
Kimmerling would like to go further with a technical tool used in marketing where you create zones. When people with mobile phones enter these areas, they receive a text message from a nearby business or possibly the EMA about the day’s beach conditions.
“Everyone coming south on the Beach Express Bridge, everyone coming south on the Holmes Bridge, they’re going to get a notification,” Kimmerling said. “With EMA and public safety, you can sort of have your own priority on this.
“Something that’s going to be very innovative and I’m working with EMA on Everbridge which is notification software that we’re trying to use. (Gulf Shores Fire Chief) Mark Sealy and I have spoken to him several times. These are the beaches of Baldwin County. Not Orange Beach, not Gulf Shores. These are all the same set of beaches and we all need to work together to make sure we make it safe. “
Another recent safety feature includes the deployment of jetskis. One is anchored inside the Perdido Pass where a lifeguard can get there quickly and get to the beach to help with a water rescue. There’s also one on a trailer at Cotton Bayou Beach Access which can be deployed very quickly.