Panama City has increased the penalty concerning a new beach safety ordinance created last year. Beachgoers who swim while two red flags are flying, signifying that the water is closed, are now subject to heavy fines, and even arrest. The decision came Thursday, July 9 during a Panama City Beach City Council meeting.
City Manager Tony O’Rourke said first offense citations will cost violators up to $500, whereas prior to 2020 a first offense merely resulted in a warning. He claimed that the penalty has become so steep because those who swim while double red flags are flying put not only their lives in danger, but the lives of first responders as well. A second offense can result in up to 60 days in jail.
This summer, there have already been several fatal drownings reported at Panama City Beach that occurred while double red flags were flying. In 2018, there were 12 such drownings, and the year before there were 10.
″$500 will be cheap compared to their life,” O’Rourke said.
The beach flag warning system can be found in some form on recreational waterfronts throughout the world. The intention is to clearly notify beachgoers of the current water and weather conditions so they can exercise the appropriate amount of caution. This is especially helpful when a lifeguard is not on duty.
If you are visiting Florida, or simply aren’t familiar with the system, take the time to learn what the warning flags mean:
By following the rules and swimming with caution, we are sure that you and your loved ones will have a great time enjoying Panama City’s beaches. Stay safe!
If you or a loved one has been injured while on a beach in Florida, our Panama City personal injury lawyercan help you receive compensation to pay for your medical expenses. Contact ustoday to schedule a free consultation.