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'That’s why we’re here': Palm Beach County ocean lifeguards prepare for busy season

'Sunscreen, something on your feet. Plenty of water. Stay hydrated and coffee doesn't count. Make sure you're staying hydrated before you come to the beach,' Daniel Barnickle says
Posted at 3:58 PM, May 31, 2024

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Summer break is officially on for students in our area.

Lifeguards are expecting families to rush to the beach to cool off and enjoy the break, and they’re ready for any issues that may come up.

For more than two decades, EMT lieutenant Daniel Barnickle has spent his summers by the water keeping visitors and locals safe.

Memorial Day weekend kicks off their busiest time of the year. He said this year is no different.

“We're going to have bigger crowds,” he said standing on a pretty empty beach at Carlin Park. “We're going to have more people.”

During the month of May, temperatures broke records in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast at least five times, reaching feel-like temperatures in the triple-digits.

“Heat emergencies is something that we're going to be busy with this summer,” he said.

Barnickle said most heat-related issues you and your kids could encounter on the beach can be avoided by taking a few extra steps at home.

“Make sure you have your umbrella, your hat, T-shirts,” he recommended. “Sunscreen, something on your feet. Plenty of water. Stay hydrated and coffee doesn't count. So, make sure that you're staying hydrated before you come to the beach.”

He also mentioned that some beaches in the county have longer sand areas, that can get really hot. He said you should have shoes on when entering the beach, and if you go to a dog-friendly beach, to cover their paws too.

Barnickle said your best move is to visit a guarded beach. There are more than 10 of those spread out throughout the county starting in Jupiter and going all the way down to Boca Raton.

You can get a lot of useful information like water temperature, any hazards, and if the beach is guarded using signs in front of most beaches.

Although the summertime provides a picture-perfect ocean, it’s best to be safe.

“Even the calmest seas can, and do, have rip currents. It looks like a pool but it's not," Barnickle said. "Pools are controlled environments. The ocean is not, it has currents even when it's flat like this. If there's a west wind, you can get pushed back.”

Dozens of guards are ready to keep the paradise we live in safe.

"People come to the beach and they let their guard down,” he said. “So that's why we're here. We're looking out and we're keeping everybody safe.”