TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - If you plan on heading to Tybee Island to soak up the last bit of summer-like temperatures, be aware there are no lifeguards on duty.
The season for lifeguards ended Sunday.
Tybee Island Fire Chief Jason Patterson says the one word he would use to describe this summer season is busy.
“During the season, lifeguard totals vary. At our highest peak we were running close to 30 and at the lower end of the season we have all of our personnel going back to school or other commitments that they have and we've been running in the six to a dozen range now and within the last 4 to 6 weeks. Now we're strictly running off the fire department personnel which will just be one to two personnel on the beach a day,” Patterson said.
Patterson says the end of the lifeguard season is always bittersweet. He says if they could have guards out all year round that would be great, but it's just not financially possible.
"I think in the wintertime, the risk is just as high as it is in the summertime. There's still just as many people visiting the beach and maybe their awareness isn't as high,” Patterson said.
Though the calendar may say it's Fall, dozens of people are still taking advantage and getting that last-minute beach time in.
"We are from this area so honestly we've spent so much time at Tybee Island and it's not something we're concerned with,” beachgoer Beth Larson said.
Larson is from Richmond Hill and is enjoying the beach with her kids. She says no matter the season, there is still a risk you take when you get into the water.
"I just kind of feel like it’s our job as parents to have our eyes on our kids and we try to look out for others kids as well when we’re around them, so it’s nice to have lifeguards but at the end of the season we don’t expect it,” Larson said.
Meanwhile, Patterson said the signage they put near the sandbars did help tremendously throughout the summer season, especially with recent drownings in the past out by sandbars.
"It helps the prevention education and trying to get people to adhere to those signs is another challenge, the signage I believe was positive people were aware and asking questions based off the signs, some people slowed down and asked about why the dangers and what they're there for so it was a good prevention tool I think,” Patterson said.
The chief says they are still in the process of compiling the total number of water rescues and other water emergencies and should have the results by the weekend. As a side note, he says they are currently taking applications for lifeguards for next summer.