Rip Tide Safety

The importance of obeying the flag warning system is due to powerful rip currents that occur along the gulf coast. The double sand bar topography of this region creates dangerous rip currents. These currents form when there is a break in the sand bar, which creates a narrow path of water that rushes out to sea. They are rarely more than 30 feet wide, but they can extend 1,000 feet offshore, reach 100 feet in width and travel up to 3 mph. Some are present a few hours; others are permanent. Rip currents are more prevalent after storms. Swimmers in this path will suddenly feel themselves being pulled away from shore. They may panic, resist the current and try to swim back to shore; however, it is nearly impossible to swim against this powerful current.   How to 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   ** Polarized sunglasses cut glare and help to spot rip currents. **   What To Do If You Are Caught in a Rip Current Don’t panic or swim against the current Relax and float with the current until it weakens Swim diagonally to shore and back in. If you don't swim well, stay in wading depths and watch for sudden drop-offs.   How to Help Someone Caught in a Rip Current Find a lifeguard Call 911 Do not enter the water, you will get caught in the current Throw a flotation device Don't lose sight of the victim   Please use good judgment when enjoying our beaches.         Information gathered from South Walton & Okaloosa Counties.