A day at Florida's beaches is a wonderful experience - white sandy beaches, clear waters and plenty of sunshine -- but it's important to remember there are also natural hazards that may exist at Florida's picturesque coastlines.
Among them are rip currents. Rip currents are currents of water flowing straight out from beaches to open water. They typically extend from near the shoreline, through the surf zone and past the line of breaking waves. Rip Current speeds can quickly become dangerous under certain wave, tide, and beach conditions and speeds can exceed 5 mph (faster than an Olympic swimmer!).
If you're caught in a rip current, it is important for you to stay calm. If you can, swim along the shore until you escape the current's pull. When you have escaped the pull, swim at an angle away from the current towards the shore. If you can't reach the shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for assistance.
According to the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS), rip currents account for 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards.
In an effort to increase awareness of rip currents, and what visitors to our pristine beaches can do if they or someone else gets caught in one, FCMP distributes comprehensive signs and other educational materials that were developed through the combined efforts of the NOAA and the U.S. Lifesaving Association. You can learn more about these efforts here.
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.