TALLAHASSEE –- An elevated risk of rip currents is expected along Florida’s Atlantic Coast beaches this week, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
At the coast, strong northeast to north winds will generate rough surf and a moderate to high risk of rip currents for Atlantic Coast beaches from Nassau County through Miami-Dade County.
“A large high pressure system over the region and a slow-moving area of low pressure offshore the Southeast U.S. will generate strong winds and ocean swells that will create hazardous boating conditions, rough surf and dangerous rip currents along Florida’s East Coast,” said Deputy State Meteorologist Michelle Palmer. “To ensure a safe and enjoyable Florida beach experience this holiday week we encourage all swimmers to look for warning signs and flags before entering the surf and to stay out of the water when red flags are flying.”
It is important to remember that when red flags are flying, beachgoers should remain alert while visiting Florida’s beaches. A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) in length, but are typically less than 30 feet (9 meters) wide. Rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) and are not always identifiable to the average beachgoer.
Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.
Be cautious. Always assume rip currents are present even if you don’t see them.
If caught in a rip current:
Don't panic. Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
Never swim against the rip. Stay afloat and signal for help.
Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle -- away from the current -- toward shore.
If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water.
Draw attention to yourself: face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.
If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim, too:
Get help from a lifeguard or, if one is unavailable, have someone call 9-1-1.
Throw the rip current victim something that floats -- a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
Yell instructions on how to escape.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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