Orange Beach to beef up safety protocols ahead of Memorial Day weekend
ORANGE BEACH - Following the probable drowning of 14-year-old Tyreke Walker, Orange Beach first responders are not taking any chances this Memorial Day weekend.
As one of the busiest times of the year, fire chief Mike Kimmerling says, they already plan to add more lifeguards along the beach, and they'll also fly a helicopter above the water to quickly get to anyone in distress.
"The gulf is not a swimming pool or a lake. There are no sides. There are no ropes. The bottom is not all smooth. There are holes. There are sandbars, there are things that move around, and unfortunately the gulf does not have any areas that are totally hazard free. It just does not exist," Kimmerling said.
He hopes they won't have to rely on that helicopter and wants the public to educate themselves on how to stay safe.
"The goal is education and prevention, not having to actually go out in the water and rescue people."
One of the most important things to know—the flag system. Tyreke had gone into the gulf just after a double red flag went up, which means don't go in.
"We try to make sure everybody is educated in the system, beach warning flags, understanding what a rip current is, what it looks like, how to escape it if you get in it, try and swim by lifeguards if you can."
Kimmerling says due to the volatile nature of the gulf, there is always a yellow flag up, telling swimmers to be cautious.
If you plan on traveling to any Alabama beaches this weekend, you can text ALBEACH to 888-777 to get up to the minute water hazard information.