GALVESTON - Galveston is expecting quite a crowd this weekend but emergency officials are also anticipating dangerous rip currents. So, Galveston Beach Patrol is sending out this warning.
The disturbance in the Gulf is stirring up wild waves and really rough rip currents. Right now the warning flag flying is red, which is the most serious.
In fact, we watched rip currents pull one swimmer into danger and lifeguards had to rescue him.
"That guy could have ended up as a drowning fatality," says Peter Davis with Galveston Beach Patrol. Because rip currents are stronger than normal beach patrol switched to a red warning flag. "Red flag means adults who are awesome swimmers shouldn’t go above their waist. Children and non-swimmers should stay out," says Davis.
Lifeguard Kevin Knight is demonstrating for us how rip currents can become life-threatening in a split second.
"Look he’s walking over into…oh and now he just stepped into the rip current. He’s way over his head and it went from about three to four feet at the most to probably eight or nine feet or even deeper. One thing we want to remember about rip currents is they do not pull you under they just pull you out. So it’s like a little river flowing out into the ocean and they take the sand with it," Davis explains.
He says people try to swim against rip currents, get tired and drown. So he suggests. "Swim parallel to shore. Look how lifeguard Kevin Knight does it and he’s going to swim toward breaking waves because he knows where the waves are breaking it’s shallow. Waves don’t break in deep water".
This is also an option. "When we say float don’t fight this is what we’re talking about. Just go with the flow, just stay calm and relax. Eventually, you’ll go out, hopefully back around and back to shore," says Davis.
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There are also rescue boxes with floatation rings you can throw to a swimmer in trouble. Lifeguards by the way are short-staffed here and working long hours right now. Galveston Beach Patrol is offering higher than normal salaries to attract more.
"We have a super-strong rip current pulling toward the rocks. So if y’all get in the water please stay knee-deep," Lifeguard Claudia Tedesco tells visitors. As crowds gather for Juneteenth and Father’s Day this weekend you are urged to keep a close eye on which color flag is flying and ask the lifeguard if you’re not sure what the colored flag means.