High risk of rip currents on Monday

A safety alert along our local shore lines


JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Warm winter temperatures and the start of spring break for a hand full of colleges mean more people packing local beaches. But there is a high rip current risk warning to anyone who might hit the sand.

The high rip current risk is in effect along all the beaches of Florida on Monday until 7 p.m. while there is a moderate risk for rip currents for the southeast Georgia beaches.

Red flags will be raised along our beaches as a warning to swimmers.

Rip currents can be deadly for swimmers. It's best to stay out of the water, even if you consider yourself a strong swimmer. They occur mostly in low spots or breaks in the sandbar, jetties and pier areas.

If you get caught in a rip current, yell for help, but remain calm!  Do not wear yourself out and try to stay afloat. If you want to try to swim out of it, remember to never swim to shore. Swim parallel to the shore because swimming sideways will save you. Swimming to the shore will only further trap you in the current and exhaust you. Only swim to shore when you feel like you've swam along the coast long enough to be out of it.   

Another great tip, no matter the risk for rip currents- always swim near a lifeguard stand.

“In a nutshell, dangerous ocean conditions even though it's red flag and water isn't closed, we advise people to not go into the water during these times. We think people should stay up to their knees and only their knees just because we don't have lifeguards fully staffed on the beach as of right now. The conditions are extremely rough so even as a strong swimmer, it doesn't mean you'll be able to handle the strong surf if you're caught in it or under toe,” said Max Ervanian, an officer with Volunteer Life Saving Corps.

If you get tired of swimming, relax your body and float and wave for help, or just tread water and wave.

"If there is an emergency, we strongly advise people to call 911 immediately, never attempt to rescue anyone, wait on shore and stay in contact with dispatch, and just wait for lifeguards or rescue personnel to arrive," said Ervanian.

Many people of all ages and swimming skill levels drown because they didn't follow those tips. The best advice is to stay out of the ocean completely.

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