LETTER: The case for more lifeguards

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Published: Friday, July 19, 2013 at 12:58 PM.

The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation's beaches exceeds 100. Rip currents account for more than 80 percent of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards. In one week alone, we had 3 percent of the nation's yearly total for our little 26 miles of beach.

The United States Lifesaving Association has calculated the chance that a person will drown while attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated lifeguards at 1 in 18 million. If caught in a rip current at an unguarded beach, how you respond could make the difference between life and death.

A recent quote in our local paper read: "We’re as proactive as anybody and maybe even more than some,” said Sammy Sanchez, spokesman with South Walton Fire District. “People just don’t get the message.”

I agree, but people are still drowning at our shores, so the message isn't working. The Flag System isn't enough. Our first responders, lifeguards and the EMTs, and the Fire Department, are doing a great job and this is in no way a criticism of them. But they need a better support system in terms of more lifeguards on our beaches. There is too much distance between lifeguard stands.

We have the following nine Lifeguard Towers for 26 miles of Walton County shoreline — that's just one tower for every 2.9 miles of shoreline.

Trained, Certified Lifeguard Tower Locations starting March 9 and ending Sept. 29 include:

• Tower 1, Access #2, 438 South Orange Street, SWFD Zone 1, Inlet Beach

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