Humberto stirring up dangerous rip currents

Beachgoers urged to stay out of water until conditions improve

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JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Hurricane Humberto is expected to generate high surf and rip currents along Florida and the entire Southeast U.S.

Anyone planning to head to the beach this week needs to use caution in the water, or stay out of the ocean altogether if they aren't a strong swimmer.

The red flags in Jacksonville Beach are flying Sunday and most likely will all week. Although there are no coastal hurricane watches or warnings in effect, forecasters say Humberto could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions from east-central Florida all the way up to North Carolina.

That means beachgoers need to use extra caution.

"No matter what you do if you go to the beach, swim in front of a lifeguard,"  said Jacksonville Beach Lifeguard Capt. Max Ervanian. "You want to swim in front of someone who is onshore, and also with a buddy. You never want to be in the water alone."

The waves are high and experts have issued rip current warnings. They said even going into shallow water can be dangerous.

"With rip currents, all you have to be in is knee-deep water to really be possibly part of a dangerous situation," Ervanian said. "What we have to remind people more so than we would like is the ocean is not a pool. If you are a great swimmer in the pool or in the lake or if you know how to swim, that's completely different from knowing the unknown with the ocean. It can very go quickly from knee-deep water to waist-deep water to way over your head in a matter of seconds."

Despite the warnings, some people will still want to get in the water, so it's important to know what to do if caught in a rip current.

Although, it made be hard to do, stay calm.

Call for help, float or swim parallel, then swim diagonally to shore after getting out of the current.

Anyone planning to go to the beach this week should make sure to check on the flag status.

Red flags mean danger and stay out of the water.

Green flags mean ocean conditions are safe.

Yellow flags mean there may be rip currents or other possible dangers in the water. You can still go in the ocean but stay near lifeguards and use extra caution.


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