Severe Weather Awareness: Beach & Boating Safety

Posted at 5:09 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 17:09:20-05

Though rip currents may sound relatively harmless, according to NOAA, rip currents have killed more people in South Florida since 1979 than all other weather-related hazards combined.


You've heard us talk about rip currents over the years, but for anyone new to Florida, you may not know what they are or how they form.

Allow me to enlighten you...

Rip currents are simply strong channels of water that flow out past the surf zone, and they're caused by an onshore wind. So, for all of us here in South Florida, any wind with an easterly component will give us an elevated risk for rip currents. This is why they're referred to as "fair weather killers." The weather doesn't have to be bad to have strong rip currents. All you need is an onshore wind.

They're normally quite small, relatively speaking, and are only about ten to thirty yards wide.

Rip currents can catch even the most experienced swimmer by surprise, and if you've ever found yourself in one you know how terrifying they are. By knowing how they work and what to do if caught in a current, you can easily break the grip of a rip current.


Once you're caught in a rip current the worst thing you can do is panic and swim straight toward the beach. Panicking and swimming in this direction will only cause you to become even more exhausted.

Why? Because you're swimming against the current.

You want to remain calm and cognizant of your situation and allow the current to take you out to sea. You then want to swim either parallel or diagonally to shore. That's how you break the grip of a rip current... It's really is that simple.

It make sense doesn't it? Think about it, they're only ten to thirty yards wide. That's not far so just let it take you out and then swim parallel or diagonally back to the shore.


Boating is a way of life in our area.

For anyone new to boating be sure to always stay on top of the weather as a nearby storm can produce strong wind gusts, waterspouts, and can cause the seas to churn. All of which can easily overturn a boat.

Also, closely monitor far away storms. Big Nor'easters and tropical systems can bring large swells into our coast.