Rip Current Safety Information

Always check the swim flags at your local beach and follow the safety guidelines below.

*Entering the Gulf during double red flag conditions can result in a $500 fine and criminal charges.

Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. Rip currents can be killers. The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation’s beaches exceeds 100. Rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards.

The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards. The United States Lifesaving Association has calculated the chance that a person will drown while attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated lifeguards at 1 in 18 million. If caught in a rip current at an unguarded beach, how you respond could make the difference between life and death.

Identify a Rip Current

Darker color surf, indicating deeper water
Murky brown water caused by sand stirred up on the bottom
Smaller unorganized waves, alongside more evenly breaking waves over a sand bar
Waves breaking further out to sea on both sides of the rip current

How to Help Someone Caught in a Rip Current

Notify a lifeguard
Have someone call 911, give accurate landmarks
Do not enter the water, you too will be caught in the current
Throw them a flotation device
Try not to lose sight of the victim

What To Do If You Are Caught in a Rip Current

Don’t panic or swim against the current
Relax, float with the current until it dissipates
Swim parallel to shore and back in
Of course, the best way to avoid a rip current is to know the surf conditions before entering the water!
Know the conditions and watch the flags!

More information can be found at www.visitsouthwalton.com/beach-safety/.

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