SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK: Marine Hazards & Rip Currents

Posted at 11:15 AM, Jan 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-24 11:15:26-05

With severe storms, waterspouts, and hurricanes, it's no surprise that marine weather in Florida can quickly become dangerous. That's why it's important for boaters to pack life jackets on board for every member on the boat. It's even more important to know the forecast before you take the boat out and heed all Small Craft Advisories and Gale Warnings.

Swimmers should also know the forecast before heading out and obey instructions from lifeguards and beach patrol. Rip currents can be a deadly threat as they claim more lives in Florida than hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and lightning combined. Rip currents can pull the most experienced swimmers from shore and into deeper waters.

Here are a few safety tips when rip currents threaten our beaches.

1. Know before you go

Check the forecast before you go swimming. If there is a risk of rip currents, you may want to reschedule the beach trip or just stay out of the water!

2. Don't panic

If caught in a rip current, staying calm is key. Gather yourself and begin swimming parallel to the current, not against it.

3. Don't fight the current

Remembering the simple phrase, "Don't fight, swim left or right" could be helpful when rip currents become a threat. Swim parallel to the beach until you are out of the current. Then, swim to shore at an angle. If you are not able to swim safely, try to float or tread water calmly until you are out of the current. Then, swim towards shore.