JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ocean Rescue lifeguards at Jacksonville Beach have issued a Beach Safety Alert through the weekend due to dangerous and life-threatening beach conditions from Hurricane Fiona and an incoming cold front.
The warning expires on Monday, so until then, people must stay out of the water.
It’s important to remember, even if the weather is beautiful outside, rip currents are a hidden danger.
They are Jacksonville’s No. 1 weather-related killer. They kill more people in Florida in an average year than hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning combined.
News4JAX was on the beach Friday afternoon after the alert was issued. There were some people fishing on the pier. Others were surfing and taking a dip in choppy waters at their own risk -- despite the safety alert.
Lifeguards were seen driving along the beach, keeping a close eye on those swimmers in the water.
In 2019, at least 30 people in Florida died because of rip currents or high surf. There were 30 deaths in 2018 as well, 15 people died in 2017 and 19 died in 2016.
If you find yourself caught in a rip current, don’t panic -- swim parallel to the shoreline. If you can’t swim out of the current, float or tread water. If you’re not able to reach the shore, face it, wave your hands and yell for help.
If you see someone caught in a rip current, DO NOT go in after them yourself. A lot of people die trying to save others. You should call 911 if a lifeguard is not available and throw the person a flotation device if possible.
For more information on the current beach conditions, visit the Jacksonville Beach website.