beach safety

Glynn County has installed flag poles this week at Massengale Beach and Coast Guard Station Beach for a new flag safety system.

Heading into the busy summer season, the county’s Recreation and Parks Department is looking for ways to shore up beach safety.

To that end, Glynn County Public Works installed new flagpoles at both the old Coast Guard station and Massengale Park beach accesses, on which will fly advisory flags.

Recreation and Parks Manager Lisa Gurganus said one of five different flags will be flown depending on the degree of hazard present at the beach.

Green means low hazards, yellow means medium hazards and red indicates very hazardous conditions. Two red flags mean the beach is closed, and a purple flag signals marine pests such as jellyfish or stingrays have been spotted.

Under a green flag, conditions on the beach are generally calm, but visitors are still encouraged to exercise caution, according to informational materials provided by Gurganus. Should the county fly a yellow flag, beachgoers should expect moderate high surf and currents. Red signifies very high waves and strong currents.

If the beach is closed due to dangerous conditions, the county will fly two red flags on each pole. A purple flag indicates sightings of “marine pests” such as jellyfish, stingrays or generous fish.

Lifeguards will continue to post flags at lifeguards stations.

Flags will only be changed out when lifeguards are on duty. Full-time lifeguard coverage will begin Friday, the start of Memorial Day weekend, and run through the summer season. During the season, lifeguards will be on duty from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends when high tide coincides with peak visitor hours.

Gurganus said her department is going to put a heavy emphasis on safety this year. The county is going to push out a number of PSAs on beach safety and, if resources allow, she’d like to have people stationed on the beach to discuss safety with visitors.

“We’re also planning to participate in (Department of Natural Resources’) beach week they usually do at the end of June,” Gurganus said. “They’ll have vendors and environmental education components and stuff.”

In addition, her department will have lifeguards there to talk with beachgoers about beach safety, currents, the sandbar, tide pools and generally being aware of their location in the water, she said.

The department is still looking for more lifeguards, as well. Those interested can call recreation and parks program coordinator John Stockel at 912-554-7783. Applications can be found at glynncounty.org/jobs.

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