SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Tybee Island Fire and Rescue are continuing to ask all persons entering the public beaches to obey the beach rules as there has been eight water rescues, 19 water assisted rescues and 4,325 beach advisories in just over the past two weeks.
A beach advisory is when someone is not following safe practices in the water. Some examples include being too far out from the shore, too close to the pier, in the water during an electrical storm and being on the sandbar.
According to Tybee Island Assistant Fire Chief Jordan Johnson, many of the incidents have come from people being on the sandbar, areas of sand, gravel or fine sediment that sits above the water. It may be connected to the shoreline, or it may be offshore. It is generally narrow and straight.
Tybee Island has two sandbars, one at North Beach and the other at South Beach. There has been deaths reported from people drowning at South Beach’s sandbar, which stretches out over a mile on the south end of Tybee Island and has a reputation of not appearing menacing but instead very inviting at low tide.
Johnson said, “They can see land so they think they can just walk out there and they’re okay, but the way tides work here and the way the currents work in the back river, it can be really deceiving.”
When the tide turns the water rises very quickly, with a very large volume of water moving over the sand. It can very easily knock an adult off their feet with such force that it is impossible for them to regain their footing, carrying them very quickly into deep water. Even when the water looks calm the current can be shockingly strong.
It is important for beachgoers to follow Tybee Island’s beach rules and Johnson continues to remind everyone by saying “Please stay off the sandbars and don’t try to make the swim over to Little Tybee, it’s further than it looks.”
Little Tybee Island is south of the barrier island and is only accessible by boat. Some swimmers have had to be rescued as they tried to get across the back river from Tybee to Little Tybee, only to become distressed.
Distance, water temperatures, wind and mid-tide currents are just a few reasons why it is important not to try and swim to the island.
More information on Tybee beach rules can be found here.