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Rip Currents

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Officials along Florida's east coast are warning Spring Breakers and other beachgoers about rip currents most of this week.

Weather conditions farther out to sea are to blame for the higher surf. A rip current is already blamed for one weekend death in Brevard County.

The best way to escape a rip current is to swim parallel to the beach until out of it, then make your way to shore. Better yet, experts say those who are not strong swimmers should simply stay out of the water.

Rescues were reported over the weekend in Volusia and Indian River counties.

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Ocean Swimming Safety

Recognize The Flags

Many beaches use a flag warning system to keep beachgoers informed about daily conditions. Learn the system -- and what each flag means -- before going into the water. These flags are flown from the lifeguard stands along the beachfront. The color code is:

Red Flag
Prohibited to go in the water, stay out. Flown when conditions are determined to be out of the ordinary, such as presence of strong wind, strong current or large surf.

Yellow Flag
Indicates caution should be used when entering any body of water. This flag is flown when undertow and riptide exists.

Blue Flag
Indicates calm seas, use everyday caution.

Know The Currents
Rip currents are narrow, river-like, currents that have been fed by the long shore current and sets of waves. You can easily spot a rip current by its foamy and choppy surface. The water in a rip current can be dirty brown from sand being turned up as it moves rapidly out to sea. Most rip currents in Texas occur near a pier or rock jetty! The rip current digs a trough in the ocean floor. As a result, waves do not usually break where there is a rip. If you are caught in a rip current - do not panic.

Stay Calm! Rip currents are not undertows, you can be pulled away from the shore but not pulled under the water. Call or wave for assistance or swim parallel to shore with the long shore current until you are out of the rip, then swim directly towards shore.

If you see someone caught in a rip or in distress, do not go in after them! Throw something that floats or extend a reaching object.

Never underestimate the power of the ocean.


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