Wednesday, December 23, 2009


-Threat moves to the Panhandle Beaches on Thursday-

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to use caution today as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected along the Gold Coast. The rip current threat is expected to shift north to the Florida Panhandle beaches from Franklin County westward on Thursday.

“We want residents and visitors to safely enjoy our beaches during the holidays,” Acting State Meteorologist Amy Godsey said. “We urge beachgoers to check the rip current outlook, swim on guarded beaches and stay out of the water when red flags are flying.”

Rip currents are responsible for about 150 deaths every year in the United States. In Florida, they kill more people annually than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents.

When at the beach:
Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
Never swim alone.
Learn how to swim in the surf. It's not the same as swimming in a pool or lake.
Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out.
Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify potential hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist along side these structures.
Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
Pay especially close attention to children and elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:
Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
Never fight against the current.
Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: For the latest weekly situation and flash reports go to: or join our blog at: .

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