Beachgoers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties should be on the lookout for rip currents through Tuesday.
A rip current advisory was issued early Monday by the National Weather Service in Miami-Dade. Forecasters intended to lift the advisory Monday evening, but meteorologist Barry Baxter said the weather service is extending it based on weather conditions.
While locals might know more about rip currents than vacationers, it’s important that everyone takes the potential hazard seriously, Baxter said.
Rip currents, which can pull a swimmer out to sea, occur when winds push water to shore, and the wind is fed back through channels on the ocean floor. Tiring swimmers fighting the current could face the risk of drowning.
Miami-Dade Fire rescue spokesman Arnold Piedrahita said on Twitter that his agency responded to a near drowning at Haulover Beach on Monday. One person was hospitalized and another was treated at the beach. Piedrahita said red flag warnings were posted at Haulover Monday morning.
Miami Beach Ocean Rescue operations supervisor Scott Reynolds said the number of lifeguards on duty has been increased due to rip currents. He said he asks people to heed warnings and always swim near a lifeguard stand.
“When you’re seeing red flags, you either need to stay out of the water or stay close to shore,” he said. “It’s extremely dangerous out there, and we want you to stay safe.”
The weather service’s advisory contains instructions for anyone who becomes caught in a rip current. Baxter said some people panic and try to get back to shore as soon as possible. Instead, he recommends remaining calm and swimming parallel to the shore. Once swimmers escape a rip current, they can swim back to the beach.
According to Reynolds, 12 people were rescued Monday morning and afternoon because of rip currents up and down the coast. He said he thinks the number would be higher if lifeguards weren’t on the beach warning swimmers about the rough waters.
“We’re going out there and preventing rescues before they happen,” he said.