DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS EXPECTED TODAY IN
VOLUSIA, BREVARD, INDIAN RIVER, SAINT LUCIE AND MARTIN COUNTIES
Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging beachgoers in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties to use caution today as a high risk of dangerous rip currents is expected along the Atlantic coast. When red flags are flying beachgoers need to be aware that swimming can be dangerous.
“Rip currents can be life threatening to anyone entering the water,” Acting State Meteorologist Amy Godsey said. “We strongly urge beachgoers to check the rip current outlook and remember the warning flag signs before going into the water. Beachgoers should stay out of the water when red flags are flying.”
A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water running perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 meters) lengthwise, but they 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) or faster.
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.
Beachgoers should take the following precautionary and preparedness actions:
· Swim at guarded beaches and heed to the advice of beach patrol.
· If caught in the seaward pull of a rip current do not attempt to move directly toward shore. Instead move sideways across the rip currents until the pull eases.
· If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
· Throw the rip current victim something that floats: a lifejacket, a cooler or inflatable ball.
· Yell instructions on how to escape.
· Never go into the water alone, and if you aren’t a strong swimmer, stick to shallow waters (although shallow waters can be dangerous too for weak swimmers).
· Only swim in areas where there is a lifeguard or strong swimmers on the beach who can keep a safe eye on you.
Beachgoers who want to learn more about rip currents can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. For the latest weekly situation and flash reports go to: www.YouTube.com/FloridaSERT or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.