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Long Beach releases PSA for beach-goers

A lifeguard watches over the hundreds of participants

A lifeguard watches over the hundreds of participants who braved the frigid Atlantic Ocean as part of the Polar Bear Club's 12th Annual Sunday Splash in Long Beach on Feb. 6, 2011. Photo Credit: Kaitlynn Mannino

The City of Long Beach is gearing up for another busy swimming season and heading it off by posting a beach safety public service announcement to its website.

The PSA, which was produced in September by e-Face Productions and Vision of One, comes less than a year after Nicole Suriel, a 12-year-old girl from Harlem, drowned in Long Beach last June while on a school field trip.

The 10-minute PSA is geared toward educating children and teens about the dangers of swimming at a beach without a lifeguard present, according to the city’s website.

In the PSA, City Manager Charles Theofan said the city has nearly five miles of “pristine beaches” that people flock to in the summer months.

“We have only one profound problem,” he continued, which is people that swim during the early spring and evenings throughout the summer when lifeguards are off duty.

The PSA, which features Long Beach residents who volunteered to take part, depicts a group of students who go to a closed beach. One boy, who decides to swim, drowns after being dragged out to sea by rip currents, and the PSA opens with police officers knocking on his parents’ door to break the news.

“Coming down to the beach and there are no lifeguards on duty, I would not even put your toes in the water,” Paul Gillespie, chief of the Long Beach Patrol Lifeguards, said in the PSA.

He said that even in ankle- or waist-deep water, a person could get dragged out to sea by rip currents. He also advises viewers about the beach’s flag system, which determines which area of the beach are safe to swim, and lifeguard practices.

Click here to watch the full PSA that is available on the city's website and will be distributed at schools in the New York area this spring, according to the site.

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