VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The Oceanfront is packed this July 4th. With classic summer weather temperatures in the high 80s and low risk for rip tides, locals and visitors are out doing everything from swimming to surfing, fishing, and parasailing.
Tom Gill, Chief of the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service, which provides lifeguards to the City of Virginia Beach, told News 3 they have 41 staffed lifeguard stands from 2nd Street to 42nd Street and another six stands at Croatan.
“Actually, today, six of those have two guards per stand which is not something we normally do, so that’s additional staffing we’ve put up for 4th of July,” Gill said.
The lifeguard stands are staffed starting at 9:30 a.m. and Gill says that already at 9:37, they had a call for a missing child. That child was located. Last year, they reported they helped reunite parents with 119 children who got separated on the July 4th holiday alone.
While Gill says their lifeguards are happy to assist in reconnecting families, he urges parents to keep a close eye on their children.
“Every time we have one of those, that’s a distraction from a lifeguard from watching the water, and again, number one priority has to be watching the water at all time.”
As of mid-day, no warning flags were out at the beaches.
“Nothing major that’s going to cause an increased chance of rip currents, but there’s always a chance for rip currents at the beach.”
He highly recommends swimming near the lifeguard stand and having a partner. He said lifeguards can spot rip currents and keep swimmers away from the area, but Gill warns to avoid any spot where it seems really smooth and the water is breaking around it.
“It usually looks really calm like the safest place you want to be; however, that can be the most dangerous place to be because that’s probably where the rip current is,” Gill explained.
As for staffing, Gill said he feels confident about his staffing numbers and their abilities, but they’re always looking for more, even looking ahead to next summer.