VERO BEACH — Beachgoers are slowly making their way back to Vero’s shores after the winter’s cold front caused a huge drop in attendance for the past few months.
In February, 71,645 people flocked to the city beaches – Jaycee Park, Humiston Park and South Beach Park, a Vero Beach Lifeguard Association report shows. More people visited the beach in February than in January and December.
Lifeguards said the drop in attendance was because of the cool weather and the beach replenishment project along Central Beach.
Even though beachgoers are returning to the coastline, previous records for the month of February show the numbers are decreasing overtime. February 2019 had 78,000 visitors while the year before had a record of 97,000 beachgoers, lifeguards said.
No matter the number, lifeguards stay alert to protect visitors from dangers at the beach, including rip currents and stinging marine life. Lifeguards said there were 19 medical emergencies at the city’s three beaches in February.
Two people were stung by Portuguese man o’ war, a marine animal carrying venom in its tentacles, lifeguards said. Lifeguards said the two injured beachgoers were taken to a hospital for treatment.
Lifeguards rescued four people from strong rip currents at South Beach Park. Larger swells and strong currents carved out some parts of the dune along the shoreline, the report shows.
Swimmers should pay close attention to beach condition signs and flags, swim near lifeguard towers and avoid swimming when lifeguards are not present. Lifeguards noted swimmers should stay out of the water if the beach is closed because of large surf, sharks or other emergencies.
The VBLA is still planning to build a lifeguard tower and command center at Humiston Park. Lifeguards said the new tower and center will allow them to see more of the beach and react faster to emergencies.
Lifeguards are searching for a donor for the project.