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Lifeguards hope beachgoers listen to rip current advisory | News

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Lifeguards hope beachgoers listen to rip current advisory
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Coquina Beach, Florida - The National Weather Service has issued a rip current advisory for most of the Gulf Coast through Friday, as stormy conditions approach the west coast. The advisory has lifeguards worry about beachgoers who may ignore the advisory.

Manatee lifeguards say because there have been fewer storms this year, water rescues due to rip currents are down about 50% from last year. But if beachgoers don't listen to the beach advisories, life guards worry that number may go up the next couple of days.

"My warning to swimmers the next couple of days is heed the warnings, check the lifeguard towers make sure conditions are safe," says Captain Joe Westerman, Manatee Rescue Division.

Beachgoers should first look at the color of the flag posted at each lifeguard stand before going into the water, says Westerman.  "Green is good to go, yellow use caution, red strong swimmers only... if closed, double red," he explains.

Westerman says the next few days expect to see a red flag flying; stormy conditions will create rip currents.

"As that rush of water comes on shore it has to find a place to go. Usually it's the path of least resistance," says Westerman.

There are basically two ways to spot a rip current. Westerman says, "It's a rush of water that has changed color, picking up sand." He adds, "You can see it ripples on top of the water. Generally, waves do not break where a rip current is going back out."

The key to surviving one, Westerman says, is to stay calm. "Don't panic; don't try to fight that rip current back to shore. Instead relax, let the current pull you out a ways, then swim parallel to shore until you swim out of it, possibly 45 degree angle back to the beach."

Lifeguards hope the heavy rain will keep most beachgoers home but for those who can't stay away. Westerman says, "My best case scenario they come, and they enjoy the beach and return home safely."

Whether conditions are good or bad lifeguards say to stay safe at the beach remember three things look for a guarded beach, look at the color of the flag at the lifeguard stands to see what water conditions are like and never swim alone.

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