SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - In the U.S. rip currents account for about 80% of beach rescues.
Over the Memorial Day weekend a ten-year-old girl drowned in a rip current on Siesta Key Beach.
It’s important to know how to identify a rip current in the water and know what to do in case you get stuck in one.
A rip current is a powerful, narrow channel of fast-moving water. They can happen anytime of the year. If you want to spot a rip current in the water, you’ll notice a portion of the water that looks foamy, sandy, and dirty. The rip current will look different from the water surrounding it.
If a person gets caught in a rip current they will most likely be pushed out to sea. A person should not try to fight the current. To break the grip of the rip they should swim to their right or to their left. The key is to swim parallel to shoreline to get out. If someone sees a person stuck in a rip current, it is advised not to jump in to save them. They should guide the person and call for help.
“We don’t want the person on the shore getting caught in the rip also because we all need to understand and know our skills and abilities. Our swimming skills and abilities if you will. So the best thing to do would be stand on the shore and yell at them to swim to their left or to their right. Or even use a hand signal to point left or to point right," said Scott Montgomery, who is Sarasota County’s Lifeguard Chief.
In Sarasota County lifeguards work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m every day and are on their stands from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
If a lifeguard is on duty, make sure to look at the flag waving before going into the water or ask the lifeguard about the water conditions. A red flag means that there is dangerous water conditions. If a person is at a beach where there is no lifeguard they should have situational awareness and learn what the water conditions are before going in.