VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Red flags are flying at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Monday, warning swimmers of hazardous conditions in the water.
Monday’s conditions are similar to those over the weekend — strong winds causing big waves and rip currents. Lifeguards are advising swimmers to stay in waist-deep or shallower water.
They came in and they literally sweep you right off your feet,” Haillye Kuhn, from Pennsylvania, said of the waves.
Hundreds of people spent Monday at the beach, but most stayed close to the shore.
“The ocean is a wild, dynamic environment, and it’s never 100-percent safe,” said Tom Gill, with the Virginia Beach Life Saving Service.
As of 5:30 p.m., lifeguards had made 21 rescues and pulled 37 people from rough water Monday.
“I’ve seen them take off running. Both lifeguards come out at the same time and have to go into the water to pull people out,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn told WAVY.com she went into the ocean once, but decided the water was a bit too rough, so she watched the waves from a safe distance. “It seems pretty dangerous,” she said.
Officials want swimmers to know their limitations and swim near lifeguard stands. Gill said there are more than 75 lifeguards on duty paying close attention to the water and everyone in it.
“On a daily basis, on an hourly basis, on a minute-by-minute basis, we are out on the sand in the guard stands on the ATVs, and we are assessing the situation because we are watching the water all the time,” Gill said.
Experts say most people have to be rescued because they panic. For those who may be planning a trip to the beach, experts say, if you do get caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore and then inward.
Red flags will remain in place Tuesday.