The signs are becoming more and more prevalent — the warmer weather, the fewer showers, the graduations, the amount of out-of-town license plates — that summer is almost here. Of course, anyone who has a calendar could also tell that.
When summer actually starts depends on which summer you’re talking about. Meteorological summer starts June 1 while astronomical summer is always around June 21. For many of us though, summer really begins this weekend — Memorial Day weekend.
The three-day holiday weekend is always a big deal in the Isles. Along with ceremonies planned to honor those that died in service to our country, the holiday weekend will bring lots of tourists to the Golden Isles looking to enjoy some fun in the sun.
To that end, this is a perfect time to remind visitors and residents alike about the importance of beach safety. Glynn County Public Works recently installed new flagpoles at the old Coast Guard Station and Massengale Park beach access points that should help keep people safer.
The poles will allow the county to use flags to indicate the hazards beachgoers can expect on any given day.
One of five flags will be flown depending on the situation — a green flag indicates low hazards, a yellow flag means medium hazards and a red flag equals very hazardous conditions.
There is also a purple flag, signaling that marine life such as jellyfish or stingray have been spotted while two red flags means the beach is closed.
These advisory flags will help beachgoers determine the risk posed by going into the water, but it is important to still remain vigilant at all times. A green flag means waters are generally calm, but caution is still greatly encouraged. Moderate high surf and currents should be expected if a yellow flag is out and a red flag signifies very high waves and strong currents.
Recreation and Parks Manager Lisa Gurganus told The News her department is putting a heavy emphasis on safety this year, including Public Service Announcements and, if possible, stationing personnel on the beach to discuss safety with visitors.
Memorial Day is also when the county’s lifeguards begin their watch over the beaches. Full-time lifeguard coverage begins Friday and runs 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.
Lifeguards, flags and raising awareness are all great steps for the county to take to make the beaches as safe as possible, but the best way to make sure you stay safe this summer at the beach is to be aware of your surroundings. Check the flags to stay updated on conditions, but don’t get lulled into a false sense of security by a green flag.
We want everyone who visits the Golden Isles’ beaches this summer to have a great time. That starts with making sure everyone makes it home from the beach. Stay alert to help make sure a day at the beach does not turn tragic.