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State officials warn Floridians to avoid rip currents

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Hurricane Rafael, which passed through the Atlantic Ocean this week, posed a higher risk of rip currents to Florida’s Atlantic coast. The Florida Division of Emergency Management is reminding all Florida residents and visitors to be cautious when visiting the beach.

Rip currents are often hard to recognize, though, according to the division’s meteorologist, Amy Godsey.

“Sometimes there are visible signs on the surface of the water — not always, though,” she said. “The most visible sign in Florida is what looks like sea foam moving away from the incoming wave.”

She said water discoloration, turning water or pulled-up sand can also indicate rip currents.

Most injured or killed by rip currents are those trying to rescue someone, Godsey said. She said the best way to escape one is to swim parallel to the shoreline.

“Any attempt to swim directly back towards the shore can tire a swimmer out since these currents are moving faster than even an Olympic swimmer,” she said.

Instead of trying to rescue someone trapped in a rip current, she advises to call a beach control unit, yell to the swimmer how to escape or use a floatation device like a boogie board to swim to the rip current.

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