Well, it’s finally here — Memorial Day Weekend, the official kickoff to the summer tourism season. It’s time to start traversing the island on the one-ways.

It’s also a good time to remind islanders and visitors about being safe when they go to the beach.

The Galveston Island Beach Patrol offers the following safety tips:

• Avoid rip currents: Stay away from rock jetties and piers.

• Swim near a lifeguard.

• Never swim alone.

• Do not dive in head-first.

• Obey warning signs and flags.

• Take sun and heat precautions (free sunscreen stations available at Stewart Beach, East Beach and at Dellanera Park on the island’s West End).

Every day, lifeguards raise flags that signal the condition of the water. A green flag means conditions are calm and swimmers are urged to be careful. A yellow flag indicates caution should be used when entering the water. This flag is flown for normal conditions to remind swimmers to stay alert. A red flag is flown when conditions are determined to be out of the ordinary, including strong winds, strong currents or large surf. Adult swimmers should stay in water no more than waist deep and non-swimmers and children should be kept along the surf line. A purple flag indicates a potential problem with jellyfish, stingrays or other marine life that could be a hazard for swimmers. An orange flag indicates there is an environmental warning for air or water quality.

The Galveston County Health District, in conjunction with the Texas General Land Office, monitors recreational coastal waters for elevated levels of bacteria. An increased level is a common occurrence that lasts approximately 24 hours after heavy rainfalls and flooding.

A beach water advisory is issued for the beach adjacent to the testing site when water quality standards for the bacteria are exceeded. The Galveston County Beach Watch program samples at 52 monitoring stations along Galveston Island, the Bolivar Peninsula and one site on the Texas City Dike.

When an advisory is issued, it’s to inform the public of the elevated level so people can make informed choices about swimming in the affected waters. When elevated bacteria levels are detected, water samples are taken daily until the levels return to normal.

For more information about Galveston’s beaches and to see real-time beach water advisories, visit www.galvestonbeachinfo.com.

Park board meetings are typically held at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 601 23rd St.

Mary Beth Bassett is the public relations coordinator for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Park Board of Trustees.

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