Volusia lifeguards warn swimmers of rip currents

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Crowds are flocking to central Florida beaches on Memorial Day and driving and parking on Daytona Beach is already a problem.

International Speedway Boulevard is one of the busiest beach access points in Volusia County, and it closed because the beach was at capacity.

There are also a few ramps closed in New Smyrna Beach.

Officials are advising drivers still making their way to Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, or New Smyrna Beach to find off-beach parking or find beach access ramps in the less populated areas.

There are more than 60 lifeguards on high alert Monday because of a high rip current risk.

"Rip currents were non-existent as of a couple of days ago, but now we're up to red flag, and I think we made about a hundred assists or rescues yesterday of people, and I see the same thing happening when the tide gets to right level," said Deputy Chief Scott Petersohn of the Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue.

Monday, there have been several rescues, officials said.

Lifeguards say swimmers should stay near a lifeguard, and if a one gets caught in a rip current, they should swim parallel with the shore.

Thousands of people packed the beaches Sunday for the busy holiday weekend.

Lifeguards were extra busy in Volusia County rescuing people from rip currents and helping lost children find their parents.

 “The lifeguards were definitely out there blowing their whistles, keeping people in the right area,” said beach goer Alyssa Ayala.

At least 100 people needed to be rescued from the rough surf.

“The strongest of swimmers can get caught in rip currents so don’t stop until you find an open life guard tower,” said Capt. Tammy Harris with the Volusia County Beach Patrol. “Hazardous conditions are expected throughout the Memorial Day weekend.”

Ayala and her family came to Daytona Beach from Oviedo for a weekend away.

It’s their first time at the beach on Memorial Day weekend.

“We figured things were getting crazy out there. We’re waiting for our hotel room so we can go to the pool,” Ayala said.

Lifeguards also handed out wristbands to small children who had their parents' contact information on them in case the children get lost.

The wristbands have helped reunite over a dozen children with their families.

Officials said anyone headed to the beach should come early to avoid parking problems and access areas being shut down.