Rip Currents Hitting Gulf
Tropical Storm Gustav is forecast to rapidly strengthen in the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday and Saturday before entering the Gulf of Mexico as a major hurricane. Gustav is also expected to increase in size once the cyclone reaches the Gulf of Mexico, and these expanding wind fields will produce sea swells that will reach Florida's Gulf of Mexico beaches by early Sunday. Additionally, onshore winds along Florida's Atlantic beaches are forecast to strengthen this weekend, which will create a moderate to high risk for rip currents.
A rip current is a channel of water that rapidly flows away from the shoreline. By heeding the advice of local officials and lifeguards, residents and visitors to Florida's beaches can reduce their chances of injury or loss of life.
"Hurricanes produce hazardous marine and boating conditions, including rip currents, well away from the storm's eye. These conditions can injure or drown those who enter the surf zone. We're urging all beachgoers and mariners to heed warnings from local authorities and lifeguards during the Labor Day Weekend," said Division of Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate.
Marine interests should exercise caution when venturing from port and beachgoers should avoid entering the surf along the Atlantic and Gulf beaches on Sunday and Monday. Emergency Managers urge all residents and visitors to understand their limitations, be aware of rip currents, and learn how to get out of them safely.
Some important safety tips to keep in mind if you witness a person stranded in the water:
Ã˜ Get help from a lifeguard.
Ã˜ If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
Ã˜ Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, or an inflatable ball.
Ã˜ Yell instructions on how to escape. The best method is to swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
Ã˜ Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.
"If red flag warnings are posted, play it safe and stay out of the water," added Director Fugate.
For additional information on rip currents, please visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov . For hazard awareness, safety tips, and to GET A PLAN ! online at the Florida Division of Emergency Management's website at: www.FloridaDisaster.org .
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