Earlier this week, an inspiring story of fifty beach goers that built a human chain to rescue a family caught in a riptide made the headlines. Luckily, the family made it to safety thanks to the quick thinking of good samaritans and you can too with these tips to surviving a riptide.
Believe it or not, the biggest dangers at the beach are not sharks. Although, those stories do get quite a bit of attention thanks to films like Jaws and shows like Shark Week.
Here is a list of dangers and signs to pay attention to while enjoying Florida’s beaches:
Here’s your sign— You may have noticed flags waving in the wind while sunning in the sand. Here’s a handy guide of what the flags mean.
Double Red – Danger! Water Closed to Public
Single Red – High Hazard, High Surf and/or Strong Currents
Yellow – Medium Hazard, Moderate Surf and/or Currents
Green – Low Hazard, Calm Conditions, Exercise Caution
Purple – Dangerous Marine Life (Usually Jellyfish)
Go with the flow— If you find yourself caught in a riptide or rip current (which can happen rather fast) you need avoid panic and know what to do. One telltale sign is a long line of foam or seaweed that is floating along the shallower shoreline or moving rapidly along a channel inside of waves that are breaking.
Exit please—One telltale sign of a rip current or riptide is a very strong pull where it’s less expected—shallow waters. Rip currents or riptides generally occur fast and are short-lived (most riptides are typically shorter than 30 feet in wide and less than 200 feet in length). Even the strongest of swimmers can be quickly swept away by fighting the current. Instead, swim parallel to the shoreline and avoid trying to swim as fast as Phelps’ in an Olympic heat.
Lastly, always pay attention to weather warnings, follow the rules of the lifeguards and be aware that the ocean is a fun but a day at the beach can turn dangerous in an instant.