FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 30, 2014
THE GRIP OF THE RIP THIS RIP CURRENT AWARENESS WEEK
highlights rip current dangers and safety this week~
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of
Environmental Protection recognizes June 1 through 7 as Rip Current Awareness
Week. Rip current safety is important throughout the year, but Rip Current
Awareness Week provides an opportunity to bring special attention to beach
Rip currents are powerful
currents of water moving away from shore. When strong winds blow toward the
shore, waves are formed that move large amounts of water toward the shore. One
common way that rip currents form is when water becomes trapped behind sand
bars. Sand bars lie parallel and close to the shore. At some point, the
pressure of the water against the sand bar may cut a narrow channel through it.
The channel is usually no more than 20 yards wide and water rushes back out to
sea through it. That rapidly moving water is called a rip current.
Visitors to Florida's beaches
are often inexperienced swimmers or nonswimmers who are not familiar with rip
currents. Rip currents are strong and may even pull the strongest swimmers out
to sea. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable as are those who
cannot swim, are poor swimmers or are unfamiliar with swimming in the ocean.
While warning flags are not required on public beaches, consistent use of flag colors where flags are present is mandated
by state law and is intended to promote safer beachgoing. Red is indicative of
high hazard conditions; yellow means medium hazards are present; green
indicates low hazard conditions; and purple warn of the presence of dangerous
marine life. Rip currents are an example of one type of hazard red flags may
Signs of a
rip current include:
- A channel of churning, choppy water;
- An area having a notable difference in water color;
- A line of foam, seaweed or debris moving steadily
- A break in the incoming wave pattern.
You can review additional
safety tips and check surf zone forecasts at NOAA’s National Weather Service website. While
at the beach, remember conditions can change rapidly, so observe the water
conditions and stay safe.
Remember, if you are caught in
a rip current:
- Stay calm;
- Do not swim against the current;
- Stay afloat! Swim along the shore until you feel the
- When free of the current, swim at an angle away from it
toward the beach; and
Call or wave for help if you need assistance.