Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Severe Weather Awareness Week: Marine Hazards and Rip Currents

Year-round warm weather and abundant sunshine attract millions of people to Florida to dive, snorkel, swim, ski, fish, cruise, or sail each year. Fair weather and fine seas treat Florida beach goers to very agreeable conditions most of the time. However, weather and water can change rapidly. Dangerous rip currents, waves, lightning, and waterspouts are among the marine hazards facing anyone who enjoys Florida’s beaches. Rip currents are especially dangerous to swimmers because they can pull unprepared swimmers away from shore and into deeper offshore waters.

If caught in a rip current, doing either of the following will increase your chances of survival:
    • DON’T panic and DON’T swim against the current. Doing either could cost your life.
    • Swim parallel to the beach. In other words, if facing the beach, swim either to the left or the right. Rip currents are relatively narrow, and swimming across the current can get you out of the main outward flow of water. The current is simply too fast and strong to swim directly against it. Most people drown because they get exhausted from fighting the current. Just remember the phrases “Don’t Fight, swim Left or Right” or “Swim to the Side to Stay Alive” because these could help save your life.
    • Stay calm. Remain afloat and allow the rip current to pull you out until free from the current, then swim back towards the beach at an angle away from the current.
Beach Warning Flags Defined

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