Sarasota lifeguards use lightning detectors - WFLA News Channel 8

Sarasota lifeguards use lightning detectors

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Sarasota County lifeguards use special lightning detectors to keep beachgoers safe. Sarasota County lifeguards use special lightning detectors to keep beachgoers safe.
Sarasota County lifeguards use special lightning detectors to keep beachgoers safe. Sarasota County lifeguards use special lightning detectors to keep beachgoers safe.
Sarasota County lifeguards use special lightning detectors to keep beachgoers safe. Sarasota County lifeguards use special lightning detectors to keep beachgoers safe.
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

When a man was struck by lightning on Clearwater Beach this week, witnesses say it was not storming or raining at the time.

So it just shows the unpredictable nature of thunderstorms here in Florida.

But lifeguards in Sarasota County have tools they use to warn them ahead of time.

Sometimes in paradise, danger can strike without warning.

So while Sarasota County lifeguards keep an eye on the swimmers, they also keep an eye on the sky.

Captain Roy Routh with Sarasota County Beach Patrol said, "[The lightning storms are] pretty bad, they move in most every afternoon."

Captain Routh has his lifeguards use lightning detectors while they're out working.

Routh explained, "It picks up electricity in the air, and as it approaches, it gives us an idea of the range"

The handheld machines are used at all Sarasota County beaches, and they come in handy. Routh says even from ten miles out, lightning can be dangerous, so the detectors keep them in the know. The devices are very easy to use, with only four buttons and lights to denote the location of lightning strikes.

'It starts notifying us when its 20 to 40 miles out, and then it'll start notifying us again when its 8 to 20 [miles away],” said Routh.

But along with the machines, lifeguards are constantly monitoring weather patterns.

If lightning is in the area, they'll put up double red flags and evacuate the beach. The swimmers are then ordered to stay away for at least 30 minutes after the lightning is gone.

Routh will also move his lifeguards to a safe place.

He said, "We don't want them in the water during lightning going out to retrieve somebody, we don't want them on the beach."

Ultimately, lifeguards are not police officers.

They cannot force someone to get out of the water during lightning.

But if a lifeguard is telling you to get out, it’s for your own good, so you better listen.

Lightning can very quickly ruin a vacation, so these lifeguards use all the tools they can to keep these beachgoers protected.

Copyright 2014 WFLA.  All rights reserved.

 

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