VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — On a busy beach day, the long stretch of sand dotted by umbrellas looks exactly the same for miles.
It’s easy to get lost, Virginia Beach Lifesaving Services Chief Tom Gill told 10 On Your Side, “We average about a thousand lost children a year.”
It can take from minutes to hours to reunite a family. Gill advises families to have a designated meeting spot.
“The biggest thing when you come down is (to know) what street are you on, the lifeguard stands are numbered.” So, set up near a stand and make sure your kids know the number.
Then, snap a selfie before you let them run and play. That way you can show police exactly what your child is wearing and what they look like.
This can save time in the search, and gets lifeguards back to ther top priority — making sure no one drowns.
Gill told WAVY.com they pulled 835 people from the water last summer.
He said a lot of sandbars near deep troughs got swimmers in deep trouble. “All of a sudden, then went from standing waist deep into a deeper water and immediately panicked and we went in and got them.”
If you see a person in trouble you should call for help and throw them something that floats.
Gill implores you to resist the urge to dive in yourself and help.
More people end up getting in trouble or dying themselves trying to save another.
To enjoy a safe day swimming in the ocean, the American Red Cross says you should do the following:
- Swim in designated areas with a lifeguard present.
- Always swim with a buddy.
- Avoid areas with moving water, waves or rip currents.
- Stay within your fitness and swimming capabilities.