In Central Florida, residents are blessed with a welcoming mix of great weather, beautiful beaches, exciting water parks, and relaxing lakes. But if you're not careful, these places can also be dangerous. The threats are always there: drowning, sharks, gators, killer amoeba, boating accidents, and child sex predators at public pools. That's why it's so important to be cautious.
In 'Lifeguard: A Local 6 Summer Safety Special', you'll learn valuable information to keep your family safe, especially as we head into the summer. You can watch the entire special, divided up into segments, by clicking the links below.
LIFEGUARDS: HEROES ALONG THE COAST
They protect your family -- risking their lives thousands of times a year to pull stranded swimmers to safety. Lifeguards with the Volusia County Beach Patrol are selfless, brave, and they respect the unpredictable power of the ocean. Local 6 takes you inside their experiences -- the terror and rush of rescuing people from dangerous and deadly rip currents -- including how to react if you get caught in the relentless undertow.
SHARK BITE SURVIVORS: INSIDE THE PANIC
They strike without warning -- sharp and violent. Volusia County is the shark bite capital of the world, with a dozen victims, on average, each year. Despite that, no one has ever died from a bite here. Local 6's Mike Holfeld talks to a survivor about the pain and panic of being bitten, along with the months and times of day you're most at risk.
LEARNING TO SWIM: THE TOOLS TO SAVE YOUR LIFE
More than 3,000 people drown in the U.S. each year, and that's why it's so vital to know how to swim, especially children. Local 6 explores a unique swimming program at the YMCA called 'Safe Start' that gives kids the skills to survive in an emergency.
‘SAFE START' SAVES LIVES: A FAMILY'S FRIGHTENING STORY
Swimming lessons from the YMCA won't just help your kids in the pool. An Orange County family shares their story of getting swept away in a powerful rip current, and how 'Safe Start' helped their 3-year-old son save himself.
BEACH DRIVING: A WHITE-KNUCKLE EXPERIENCE
Driving on the beach is a novelty in Volusia County -- but it can also be a hazard. There have been 42 accidents in the last five years, two of them deadly. Local 6 shows you how the county has toughened beach driving rules, and why lifeguards say the changes are already working.
KILLER AMOEBA: THE THREAT YOU CAN'T SEE
Our lakes in Central Florida are inviting, refreshing, and relaxing. But there's a hidden danger you need to understand -- amoebas. There have been more than 100 cases of amoebic infection over the last 50 years, and just one survivor. Even more chilling -- the parasites kill people, on average, in just 10 days. Local 6 shows you how amoebas attack your body so suddenly, and what you can do to protect yourself.
AMOEBA VICTIMS: CHILDREN TAKEN TOO SOON
The parasites prey on kids, including those in Central Florida. The average age of an amoeba victim is just 12. Local 6's Lisa Bell talks to the families of children who died from the infection. They have an urgent message about why parents need to take this threat so seriously.
POOL SAFETY: MORE THAN JUST SWIMMING LESSONS
Most parents know how difficult it is to keep track of your children around the pool. That's why swimming lessons are the first line of defense to protect your kids -- but not the only one. Local 6 shows you what kind of equipment you're required to have at your pool, and how to make sure accidents don't happen.
PORTABLE POOLS: AN EASY OPTION, WITH RISKS
Portable pools look harmless, but the government says dozens of kids under the age of five drown in them every year -- from blow-up kiddie pools to larger models. Local 6 shows you how to make sure this efficient, affordable option doesn't become dangerous for your family.
COAST GUARD RESCUES: FEAR & ADRENALINE
Each year, more people decide to captain a boat in Central Florida -- and that means more work for the Coast Guard. Rescuing stranded boaters is as dangerous as it looks -- battling the wind, waves, and weather. Local 6 talks to these heroes about how they put their fear aside to save lives.
BOATING SAFETY: AVOIDING A BAD SITUATION
What do you do to make sure the Coast Guard doesn't have to rescue you? Prepare! Local 6 shows you what you need to have on your boat for emergencies, and how simple steps before you get on the water can save your life.
WATER PARK SEX PREDATORS: HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
They're some of the hottest places to cool down, especially during the summer. But since 2009, there have been 11 reports of lewd and lascivious acts on children at water parks and resort pools in Central Florida. Local 6 shows you how Disney and SeaWorld have joined forces with the Orange County Sheriff's Office to make your family feel safer.
WHEN GATORS ATTACK: FIERCE AND FRIGHTENING
Alligators -- they're as much a symbol of Florida as palm trees and breathtaking beaches. But on average, 7 people are bitten by gators every year in the Sunshine State. Local 6 talks to an expert about why these reptiles go after us, and what to do if you see one swimming right at you.
SHARK SAFETY: THE REAL DEAL ABOUT THESE PREDATORS
We see shark bites frequently in Central Florida. But are these creatures really preying on humans, or is it just a mistake? Local 6's Steven Cooper got a crash course in shark safety when he went on a thrilling dive with the experts at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa.