Tybee ranks among the top areas for rescues on Eastern seaboard - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tybee ranks among the top areas for rescues on Eastern seaboard

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Some Tybee Island beach goers are playing it safe, avoiding the water on Monday after very dangerous conditions this past weekend.

It was the busiest weekend for lifeguards this season, as they rescued 27 people from rip currents. One man could not be resuscitated when he got caught in a current while trying to save his daughter.

Lifeguards flew yellow flags throughout the day Monday, which means the conditions have improved. 

Lifeguard officials say they decide on how to categorize the water conditions by factoring the wind speed and its direction, along with how many rip currents they see in a certain time frame. Officials say they were flying a red flag for most of the day on Saturday, warning folks just how dangerous it was, but they said the conditions only got worse, and that’s why they chose to close the water Saturday evening. While the water has since reopened, some folks say they aren’t willing to risk it.

“I'm not that good of a swimmer. I’ll be swimming in the pool, that way I know where the bottom is, where the top is, and I know what the current is...it's what I created," said vacationer, Dave Miller. 

The rough conditions are pretty specific to Tybee. Lifeguards say the number of rescues off the coast of Tybee Island are some of the highest on the Eastern seaboard, mainly because of the dangerous rip currents. So far this season, one person has died and 117 people have been rescued.

Officials say it has everything to do with how the island is positioned and what all is going on around it.

Officials tell me, they have to submit their numbers to the U.S. Lifesaving Association every year. And I’m told, based on the per capita and mileage of beach, Tybee is ranked as one of the top areas with the most rescues.  

Officials say the rip currents are worse around here because our beach is so close to the channel. And – when that channel is being dredged - it creates a much steeper drop off which makes it even more dangerous if someone is pulled under in a rip current.

“Because there is a channel on both sides of the island. It does make our currents a lot stronger compared to St. Simons, the Charleston area,” said Tybee Ocean Rescue Cpt. Chad Osterlund.

Now, there are 38 lifeguards, but because of these dangerous conditions, they are still looking to hire about 10 additional guards. Especially before the 4th of July.

Contact the lifeguard shack for an application at 912.786.9873.

To learn more about swimming safety at Tybee, click here. For a list of lifeguard stand locations and current beach conditions, click here

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