Those visiting Amelia Island’s beaches during the last three weeks of August may notice the lifeguard towers are empty on weekdays. Starting August 12, 2019, no lifeguards will be on duty Monday through Friday. Lifeguards will be at the beaches on the last three weekends of the summer season of 2019 (ending the Labor Day holiday weekend).
“If In Doubt, Don’t Go Out!”
“Coinciding with the start of the new school year, lifeguard towers will be staffed on weekends only, through Labor Day. If in doubt, don’t go out! In the event of an emergency, dial 911,” stated an announcement posted to the Fernandina Beach Fire Department’s Facebook page 8/12/2019.
School Starts In August
Once school starts, fewer people visit Amelia Island beaches, especially on weekdays. Nearby Camden County, GA public schools went back into session on August 2, 2019, and plenty of folks from nearby Georgia come to Amelia Island’s beaches. Here in Nassau County and Fernandina Beach, the 2019/2020 school year started August 12, 2019.
Emptier Beaches Weekdays
Hot Florida weather and warm ocean temps do not subside when the kids head back to school here. It’s still prime time beach and swimming weather, yet the beaches are emptier, especially during weekdays. Some visiting from elsewhere in the nation are still taking summer vacations, having kids that don’t go back to school until September, after Labor Day. Be sure to check ocean conditions before considering going into the water, and make sure you’re aware of rip currents.
Get Ocean Condition Alerts Via Text
Signs posted at the beach also advise beach visitors to call 911 for all emergencies. Get daily beach condition alerts on cell phones by texting BCHSAFE to 888-777. These texts indicate ocean conditions and warn when to stay out of the ocean. YELLOW is “medium hazard — moderate surf/currents with potential for rip currents.” RED is “high hazard — high seas and surf conditions! Currents and surf dangerous for all levels of swimmers.” Some are not familiar with rip currents. Pay attention to signs at beach access entry points and read the rip current warning signs.
Lifeguard Staffing Challenges
For the past two summer seasons various news sources (including two links further below), have reported challenges to fill seasonal lifeguard positions around the region. Lots of training and rigorous swimming tests are required to become an ocean rescue lifeguard. The job carries a lot of responsibility, and the pay’s not great. Some of the lifeguards also have to go back to school themselves before the end of summer. Universities typically begin orientation and classes in August.
Related Articles About Lifeguard Staffing
News4Jax article and video interview with Fernandina Beach Ocean Rescue, “Fernandina Beach Ocean Rescue still needs summer lifeguards,” April 12, 2019.
“Amelia Island Facing Lifeguard Shortage Ahead of Summer Season,” the Nassau County Florida Independent, March 14, 2019.