Coast Guard cautions beach goers about dangerous rip currents while swimming in South Florida

d7MIAMI — The Coast Guard advises swimmers to exercise extreme caution while at beaches in South Florida due to a number of recent drownings and near-fatalities from dangerous rip currents caused by high winds and waves this month.

The forecasted weather and additional population in South Florida for spring vacation this weekend will increase the risk.

“Rip currents are a dangerous phenomenon that occurs on our South Florida beaches and I urge experienced swimmers and the general public to exercise caution when swimming at the beach,” said Captain A. J. Gould, commander of Coast Guard Sector Miami. “Doing so could save your life, or the lives of your loved ones.”

The Coast Guard Rescue Center contact number to report a distress or rescue situation in South Florida is 305-535-4472, while VHF Channel 16 is the international distress frequency to report maritime emergencies.

A rip current is a powerful channel of water that flows quickly away from shore caused by strong waves and winds. They often occur at low spots or breaks in the sandbar. Any object or person caught in a rip current can be pulled out into deeper seas.

If you become caught in a rip current, do not panic. The way to escape a rip current is to swim parallel to the shore. Once you are away from the force of the rip current, you will be able to swim back to the beach with less resistance. Do not attempt to swim directly against the current, as you can become easily exhausted, even if you are a strong swimmer.

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